Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

David Tennant's father and ex-Kirk moderator Sandy McDonald dies

The Very Rev Dr Sandy McDonald Image copyright The Church of Scotland

A former Church of Scotland moderator who was the father of actor David Tennant has died aged 78.

The Very Rev Dr Sandy McDonald, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from 1997-98, had been fighting the degenerative lung disease pulmonary fibrosis.

He died at the Erskine Care Home in Bishopton, Renfrewshire on Thursday.

Current Moderator, the Rt Rev Dr Angus Morrison, said: "Dr Sandy McDonald was a wonderful man and minister."

He added: "Genuine love for people was a defining mark of his ministry.

"He had a special concern for the well-being, at every level, of his fellow ministers. Sandy's memory will be cherished by many."

He is survived by three children, including Doctor Who and Broadchurch star Tennant, who was born in Bathgate, West Lothian.

Tennant is understood to have taken his stage name from the Pet Shop Boys frontman Neil Tennant after reading a copy of Smash Hits magazine.

Dr McDonald was described by colleagues as a "beloved figure, widely admired for his fearlessness, generosity and irrepressible high spirits".

Image copyright AP
Image caption David Tennant is understood to have taken his stage name from the Pet Shop Boys frontman Neil Tennant after reading a copy of Smash Hits magazine

In the 1980s he co-presented religious programme That's The Spirit on STV, and once appeared with Tennant as a guest on cookery show Ready Steady Cook.

He also took on a cameo role alongside his son in an episode of Doctor Who in 2008.

Following his diagnosis, he spoke out in favour of the right to die of terminally ill people, contrary to the Kirk's official position on the issue.

Former Kirk moderator the Very Rev John Chalmers said: "Working with Sandy McDonald was one of the great pleasures of my career in ministry.

"It was no surprise to me when Sandy called for a serious dialogue on the right to die - he was a man who tempered his views in the light of reality, he was a man who sat lightly to dogma and who preferred faith in action.

"The Church of Scotland needs a new breed of Sandy McDonalds who catch a passion for the good news of Jesus Christ, but whose understanding of the faith is not frozen in time, but develops and matures with new revelation and understanding."

Dr McDonald was born in Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire, in 1937 and trained for the ministry after national service with the Royal Air Force.

He served at St David's Parish Church in Bathgate, and St Mark's Parish Church in Ralston, Renfrewshire, and then as general secretary of the Church of Scotland's board of ministry until he retired in 2002.

Helen, his wife of more than 40 years, died in 2007.

Friend the Very Rev Dr Lorna Hood said: "Sandy didn't just preach. He put his whole self into it - his arms, his voice, his whole body went into his sermons.

"People loved it when he preached. He was a great pastor and he held parish ministry at the heart of the Church."

Image copyright The Church of Scotland

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