Minister known for his innovative approach to worship

Born: May 16, 1944;

Died: December 3, 2017

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ALAN Ross, who has died aged 73, was a minister of the Church of Scotland known for his work around the world, including in Africa. He will also be remembered for developing an innovative form of worship in which people sat in a circle rather than in rows.

Born in Renfrew to Hubert and Isa Ross, on leaving school, he took up an apprenticeship with the chartered accountants Wilson Sterling in Glasgow, qualifying in 1969 and moving to Australia to work with Arthur Young, chartered accountants, as a manager, and subsequently as a partner. A wise man, with an innate sense of decency, he quickly established a reputation

for integrity with a keen eye for detail. (In 1989 AY merged with Ernst and Whinney to become Ernst and Young.)

As a teenager in Renfrew Old Parish Church, Alan had been active in leading the youth work. It was during a World Council of Churches work camp in the Netherlands in 1964 that he met Kay Sarll, an Australian, whom he went on to marry in Australia in 1970. Their children Morag and Callum were both born in Australia.

His call to ministry meant resigning the accountancy partnership to study at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews. Following graduation, he moved with his family to Kenya to work with Carr Stanyer Sims & Co, an accountancy practice with many large clients handling foreign aid, where he also became a partner. Active in church life there, he preached at weekends in a parish of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, taking his children with them to inspire them to respect other cultures and to follow paths of justice and peace.

In 1988 the Ross family moved back to Scotland, preceded by a short spell in Australia. Soon after, Mr Ross was ordained and inducted into the then charge of St Andrew’s Greenknowe Erskine Church, Annan.

His gently unobtrusive style masked a visionary approach to ministry. In his time in Annan, he developed his participative form of evening service called Worship in the Round in which people sat in a circle. People with learning difficulties found a welcome there too and would help to lead in worship.

Mr Ross also led the congregation in a major project to send to Ukraine two lorries, laden with aid, including medical supplies, to help victims of the Chernobyl disaster, galvanising community fund-raising and support via a temporary community shop in the town. He accompanied the team to Ukraine to help deliver the aid.

His heart lay in parish ministry, and so, following his (early) retirement in 1997, he established the 50 per cent charge of the churches of Hutton (Boreland) and Corrie, linked with Eskdalemuir, linked with Tundergarth, subsequently undertaking the interim moderatorship of Tundergarth Church.

In 2002, he was struck down with Guillain-Barré Syndrome – an affliction borne with typical courage and faith. The medical attention he received and the prayers of many friends left him ever grateful for the miraculous recovery he made. He became treasurer of the National Guillain-Barré Syndrome Association.

His many interests included current affairs, gardening, and reading made him a most interesting conversationalist. He is survived by his wife Kay, their children Morag and Callum, four grandchildren Robert, Rhona, Zachary and Natasha, and his sister Millie.

GEORGE LIND