As her mother wished her to be under the ministry of Rev Neil MacIntyre and among Church people, she trained as a teacher in Edinburgh, lodging in turn in the homes of Captain K K Macleod and Mrs H Gunn. On completing her training in Moray House she took up a teaching post at Kallin in North Uist and journeyed there in November 1926 with those returning from the funeral of Rev D Macfarlane. There she met her husband, Mr Neil Turner, a native of Berneray, who was teaching in Grimsay, and they were married by Rev D Beaton at Inverness in December 1928. They had five children. In 1930 Mr and Mrs Turner moved to Lochportain, North Uist, where Mr Turner became Headmaster and where Mrs Turner later resumed teaching. Mr Turner had to retire due to ill health in December 1958, after 13 years in Drinishader, five miles from Tarbert, Harris, and he died in June 1960 at Leverburgh, Harris. Mrs Turner remained in Leverburgh, teaching at schools at Finsbay, Seilebost and Leverburgh, until December 1962, when she had major surgery in Inverness. In October 1963 she moved to Edinburgh, where she happily remained until her death on 4 May 2001.
During her married life Mrs Turner attended the Church of Scotland with her husband. While visiting her mother on one occasion she attended Dingwall Communion and was made very conscious of the division there was when others went forward to the Lord’s Table and she remained in her seat. It seems that, when in due time the light of the gospel shone in her heart, the words of Isaiah 45: 22 were savingly applied to her: “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else”. She was enabled to say with a measure of assurance: “It was made very clear to me that I was a sinner and Jesus was now my Saviour”. Many years later she took notes of a sermon preached from this text by Rev. William MacLean at an Inverness Communion (see page 36 in this issue), which she obviously heard with delight. Her comment on the preaching was: “Powerful and solemn, earnestly desiring the conversion of sinners”. During her time in Leverburgh after Mr Turner’s death, she was convinced from God’s Word that her place was in the Free Presbyterian Church. The words of Isaiah 54: 5, “Thy Maker is thine husband”, were brought home to her with conviction at this time. She was received as a communicant in Inverness at the June 1963 Communion and later transferred her membership to Edinburgh. Mrs Turner was a regular and appreciative visitor to communion seasons in Glasgow, Inverness, Dingwall and other places.
Her interest in the African Mission was no doubt intensified by the involvement of her daughter and her close friend Miss Jean Nicolson. In a letter to her daughter and a companion returning to the work in August 1972 she wrote: “We think of you a lot meantime on flight once again to your desired duties. Trust you both feel composed, resting fully on the Lord’s mercy and care. What He has promised He is able and willing to perform. The other day, as I read 1 Corinthians 15, the words of the last verse were much impressed on my mind concerning you two leaving home for most needful and appreciated duties on the Mission Field. So may Paul’s desire for the Corinthians be fully granted to you both according to His will, with which we are reconciled”. A strong desire was fulfilled when she visited the Zimbabwe mission in August 1983, travelling home with Miss Nicolson.
Mrs Turner sat at the Lord’s Table for the last time in November 1993 and was for some years unable to attend public worship. It had been her custom when she came home from a service to write down the text and what impressed her in the sermon, and many such edifying notes remain among her papers. Now prevented from going out, she appreciated what her daughter and son-in-law were able to tell her of the texts and sermons which they heard. One Sabbath afternoon she was cast down, assailed with the temptation that she was deceived and never truly converted, but when her family came home from the evening service, her words were: “O Lord, all that I do desire is still before thine eye” (Ps 38:9). One evening, when her daughter came home from the service, she told her that she had been greatly comforted by the words in the Song of Solomon 4: 7: “There is no spot in thee”. On another occasion she smiled brightly when the words of a psalm sung at the prayer meeting were quoted to her: “Together let My saints unto Me gathered be” (Ps 50:5). These verses had also been made precious to her own mother before she passed away.
There is evidence in her spoken or written notes of where her thoughts were. “The Lord has told me that He is taking me to be with Himself and why am I doubting? We need forgiveness, and He is ready to forgive”. “My time is soon coming when I have to leave this world and give an account of every deed done in the body.” “Keep us every step of the way till we reach the Zion that is above.” “Give me wisdom, and grace to love, adore and persevere to the end.” “May I continue to be strengthened to love the Lord.” “How blessed to feel assured that the Lord is with us in all our ways and condescends to go down into our humiliations and banishments with us!”
Mrs Turner remained with the remnant in Edinburgh who adhered to the Free Presbyterian Church in 1989 and, although she did not speak of the subject, it could no doubt be said of her as was said of her mother [Free Presbyterian Magazine, January 1960] that “when some whom she esteemed as true servants of Christ did forsake the Church of their first love, she felt the disappointment keenly, but never herself weakened in her adherence to the path of duty.” She rejoiced to hear of souls being added to the Church, of men being raised up for the ministry and of any evidence of the Cause prospering. She was greatly concerned for the spiritual welfare of her family. One evening the words of Psalm 37:26 were much on her mind: “He’s ever merciful and lends: his seed is blessed therefore”. She told her daughter that this text had been given to her years before at a Dingwall Communion. Her frequent prayer was, “May all dear ones be led to Christ”. A little note left among her papers, written in 1984, expresses this desire: “My greatest concern is that all my dear ones, from the youngest to the oldest, would be brought to know Jesus as their own sure portion in a day of mercy. Earthly concerns are secondary, ‘for [we] shall carry nothing hence when death our days [shall] end’. May all be kept from bringing a blot on His Cause and Kingdom and among ourselves. ‘Be content with such things as ye have for He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.'” In a list of “promises to continue to pray for, re dear ones,” she noted Psalm 84:11, John 10:16, Isaiah 56:8 and Malachi 3:17.
The present writer knew Mrs Turner only in her last few years of increasing frailty but on his visits he felt, in as far as he can assess such things, that there was about her a savour of Christ and of a blessed eternity. Though inclined to listen rather than speak, it was evident from what she was able to say that her thoughts were very much occupied with her Saviour and the prospect of being with Him. Among her papers are undated notes of a Fellowship Meeting in Daviot where the Question was based on Hebrews 11:14-16.The remarks noted from the closing of the Question sum up what Mrs Turner longed for: “One moment in glory will fill your souls with love of Christ. You will forget all your troubles in one moment in glory”.
Our departed friend was grateful for every kindness shown to her by family and friends and professional helpers. All her family were constant in their remembrance of her, and her daughter and son-in-law cared for her with exemplary devotion and careful attention to her every need. To them all we extend our sympathy and prayerful good wishes.
(Rev) H M Cartwright