The Vale of Leven has known a number of interesting clerics, writes Ian Miller
Jim Aitchison who played cricket for Scotland, Allan Hasson who may have played a flute, but certainly rode a white horse.
And Jimmy Currie and Bob Patterson (the Happy Padre who used to write in the Sunday Mail).
Jimmy was the minister at Millburn Church in Renton before moving to Pollock in Glasgow and then Dunlop in Ayrshire.
Bob had been at Gourock, Kings Park and then his final charge at Jamestown. Stories abound about the two of them.
They were men of the people, humorous, engaging, wonderful and compelling preachers.
No one was ever turned away from the manse door or the church door.
Some of their more traditional colleagues in Dumbarton Presbytery frowned on them.
But had there been more Curries and Pattersons one wonders if their approach might have been more effective in arresting the dwindling number of those who attend church nowadays.
Mind you Jimmy Currie’s wife Peggy was from the Vale and greatly loved.
Jimmy and Bob both preached at Bonhill and I shared in a Burns Supper celebration at the Golf Club.
Neither of them could ever understand how I supported the wrong team!
The article below about James Currie was sent to me recently.
If you are old enough to remember him, then I hope you will enjoy reading it. He was quite a guy! Ian
If only they made them like this these days…
The Rev James Currie
Do Rangers, Graeme Souness and the Trophy Room mean anything to you? Turning yet another page in the interesting history of Dunlop Parish Church, the arrival of the Rev. James Currie certainly shook the congregation.
Shipped south from Pollok, Dunlop Church was seen as a place for the Rev. James to slow down and rest.
A heart attack had brought James to the smaller greener pastures of Dunlop, but rest was something that James Currie never did.
“You gotta get on,” Jimmy would say, and with a swish of his black robe, an ever-smiling face and those upturned bushy eyebrows… off he would go wherever he was beckoned.
Many disliked the Reverend James Currie for the unorthodox way he served the Lord. Many more…. many many more… loved him.
Regardless of what side of the Bible you prefer to stand on, one cannot shy away from his magnetism and hard work.
Humour was an alien concept in the teachings of the Church. Telling stories and laughter was important to Jimmy, it was in his blood.
This new approach to spreading the word of the Lord was indicative of the Currie years.
It was also one that brought much heartache upon him and his wife Peggy.
Forever at odds with the stale methods expected of him by his superiors, James was often his own worst enemy.
Crossing parish borders was a delicate practice frowned upon by many.
James Currie viewed himself a servant of the Lord – without boundaries.
He would often travel in the middle of the night from the Manse Dunlop to Edinburgh, Dundee and beyond.
James travelled tens of thousands of miles in a year rivalling any truck driver.
All in his quest to be where he was asked to serve the people.
Soon James was on the radio, on the television in the newspapers.
He brought celebrities to Dunlop, Moira Anderson to name but one. He put Dunlop village on the map.
His fervent support for the Rangers Football Club brought him many friends… and just as many enemies.
This public “in your face” approach by the Rev. James Currie was what separated the cloth from mediocrity.
The trips to the Holy Land ushered in a new long-distance era in the Currie years.
During this time many of the local Dunlop parishioners felt abandoned, left forgotten whilst the Rev. James was “gallivanting all ower the World”.
Jimmy never looked like he was at peace and if you spent a few hours with the man you would understand that meaning.
He was a veritable tornado, surrounded by a million bits of paper promising appearances.
Writing cards whilst talking on the phone, watching TV listening to the radio and still making you feel you were the centre of his attention.
In between there somewhere he would also find time to eat.
As quickly as the new found attentions on this small community began… it ended.
On a cool damp evening on April 18th 1987 after a day on the farm in Arran, the Rev. James Currie finally succumbed to another heart attack.
Jimmy died in the Laigh Manse, a few hundred yards from the very Church that would host his goodbye.
The last entry in Jimmy’s diary found by his bedside…. “What a glorious day”.
Graeme Souness, then captain of Rangers, was one of many celebrities who attended the funeral at Dunlop Parish Church.
More than 1100 people packed the Kirk and grounds. Speakers were set up outside such was the magnitude of attendance.
At the end of the day it was the people who Jimmy lived to serve who came in their hundreds to pay their last respects.
In life all we can ever hope for … is to be remembered. The Rev. James Currie and his tenure at Dunlop Parish Church – will most definitely be remembered.