Rev Ray Gaston, Locum Minister
Born on 25th May 1936 in Atherstone, Warwickshire of Scottish parents, Ray became an evacuee on the outbreak of War. Schooling began in the Church Hall, Port Bannatyne, Bute along with the other evacuee children. For the first months there were no desks, books or pencils – just pews from the Church, slates and slate pencils and two elderly schoolma’rms hauled out of retirement. Gasmasks were carried (obligatory) at all times.
Post war Primary education continued in Govan, Glasgow, then on into Secondary at the Gordon Schools, Huntly where father was the local Congregational Minister.
After a year in a Pure Science course, Ray continued in Languages and Philosophy, graduating in Arts in 1958. A three-year course followed at the Congregational College in Edinburgh, taken “with distinction” whilst also studying as an external student through Aberdeen University and graduating BD in 1961.
Drawn to work overseas, and after marriage to Evelyn, further preparation followed at Selly Oak Missionary College in Birmingham and Montpellier, France. With baby Malcolm two months old, Ray and Evelyn set out for Fianarantsoa, Madagascar with the London Missionary Society. There Ray took over as Principal and Head of New Testament Studies in the Pastoral College after six months given to learn the language (through French!) since all the work would be done in Malagasy. In addition to teaching and the administration of the College, Ray was also a District Missionary and Nominal Head of a local school. Gillian and Gail were added to the family – “Malagasy Lassies”- and, after a period of acclimatisation back in Scotland, they set up home in Sauchie Manse for five years with Ray as Parish Minister.
In January 1975 Ray took over the very new triple linkage of Dollar West with Glendevon and Muckhart. After five years, the two Dollar congregations united under Ray’s ministry, ten years of the union and linking followed with the family finishing their schooling at Dollar Academy. Ray also served as Governor, Chaplain and Chief Invigilator.
From 1989 to 1993 Ray was minister of the John Knox Chapel, Geneva (Church of Scotland) – a multinational, multi-denominational English-speaking congregation. It was from there – with both home and overseas experience – that he applied to the Board of World Mission in Edinburgh as Staffing Officer where he served from 1993 to 1998 until, with the re-organisation of the Board and with only a few years remaining till retirement, his last four years in full-time ministry were spent in Leuchars.
Officially “retired” in 2002, Ray and Evelyn “came home”, settling in Dollar since when locum posts have followed extensively in Perth and Stirling Presbyteries, Lisbon and the Hebrides.
Ray says, “I came as Locum to Clackmannan in October 2016 where I am very happily settled amongst friendly folk for however long I know not!!
My interests are choral singing (male voice) and watercolour painting.”
Rev Jim McNeil BSc BD, Interim Moderator
Minister to Alva for over 20 years (before that I was minister of Castlemilk West)
I am now the Clackmannan Interim Moderator which means that I deal with the ad-min and help the leadership of the church during the vacancy.
Married for 26 years to Roseanna (though she probably feels it is a lot longer).
My intention is to be as open as I can be about the process of vacancy and, with Ray as Locum, our hope would be to try to help Clackmannan on their journey of faith for the short time that we are in charge.