KENNETH GILLIES was born in the City of Glasgow on 6th November 1919. His father was a native of the Island of Raasay, while his mother belonged to the Island of Harris. His father, John Gillies, was a deacon in St. Judes Free Presbyterian Congregation during the ministry of that eminent servant of Jesus Christ, the Rev. Neil Cameron. He later became an elder in this congregation. As a result, Kenneth was a witness to true piety in his home, and both as a boy and a young man attended the church services regularly with his father and mother.
On leaving school he commenced work, and continued with the same employer all his working life, which extended over forty-five years, apart from the time when he, like many young men and women from St. Judes, was called up for service during the Second World War. His continuing for so long with one employer, showed a particular aspect of Kenneths character his sense of loyalty. During the war years he served as a wireless operator in the Navy, and was wonderfully preserved on several occasions during that time.
At the end of the war he resumed his employment, and in 1952 he was joined in marriage to Miss Annie MacKinnon, a union which was to continue happily for over forty-seven years. They were blessed. with a family of three sons, all of whom are now married with families of their own. Kenneth and his wife were regular attenders in the St. Judes Congregation, but the Lords goodness in delivering him from dangers during the war years, and the blessing of a happy married life, did not bring Kenneth to repentance.
When the Lords time came to visit him, he was awakened to a sense of his lost condition as a sinner under a sermon on the text: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). The burden of his sins now became a reality to him, and he began to seek the only One who could give him rest. His mind was gradually enlightened in the knowledge of Christ, as the Holy Spirit took of the things of Christ and revealed them to his soul in the light of the Word of God. It was here he found rest, and could say with the Church, “As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste” (Song of Solomon 2:3).
In April 1981 he came forward to the Lords Table for the first time, and began his public profession of the Saviour who had been made precious to him. In June 1985 he was ordained and inducted to the eldership in St. Judes, the congregation in which he had been baptised and grown up. The present writer has often observed in the course of his ministry, that when a male communicant is ordained to office in a congregation, there is clear evidence of an increase of grace in such a person. In a way this is only to be expected in view of the promise: “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Nevertheless it is very pleasant to see the fulfilment of this promise in the spiritual exercises of those blessed in this way.
Kenneth was very willing to supply vacant congregations in his Presbytery. He was attached in a special way to the Fort William Congregation. His natural disposition to be loyal was now sanctified to faithfulness to the testimony of his Church, and he did all in his power to promote its witness. His addresses from the Word of God were delivered in a clear resonant voice, and the doctrine declared was most acceptable. His keen interest in the Glasgow congregation was further evidenced in his service as the Congregational Treasurer, which lasted for twelve years, and was conducted with efficiency and courtesy.
In 1997, he and his wife moved to the Island of Raasay. His departure from the congregation was deeply felt and regretted by all. We were reconciled to this event by the recognition of the fact that he would be a help to that congregation. This indeed took place and, both in holding services and visiting the sick and the housebound, he proved a real source of strength to all concerned, despite his own failing health.
Some time after going to Raasay, his illness and failing health became much more evident, and eventually he was taken into hospital. He bore this, his last illness, with exemplary patience and quiet submission to the Lords will. On being discharged from hospital, he was taken to his sons home in Dingwall, where he was tenderly nursed by his wife and daughter-in-law until, on 6th November, 1999, he passed to his eternal rest at the age of eighty years. All that was mortal of our friend was conveyed to Raasay, and laid to rest in the new cemetery, there to await the resurrection of the just.
Kenneth shewed many of the traits of his godly father. Among them was one of a great concern that everything in connection with the Cause of Christ would be done expertly and in good order. By nature of a pleasant and friendly disposition, he was warmly interested in the welfare of all whom he met, cordially attached to all the people of God, and a companion of those who feared God and kept his precepts (Psalm 119:64). His relationship with his fellow office-bearers and minister in Glasgow was of a most warm-hearted nature. In this was exemplified the truth of the Word of God: “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14).
We extend our sincere sympathy to his widow, now left lonely in the world, but we believe able to say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” To his sons, their wives and children, we also extend our sympathy. May they seek and find the Saviour who says, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).
“Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace” (Psalm 37:37).D. McL.