THE former general secretary of the Overseas Council for the Church of Scotland has died aged 99.
Elizabeth Anne Cameron Walls, or Betty as she was fondly known, was Glasgow-born and educated, but moved to Edinburgh and lived in the Capital for 65 years.
She started her working life as a primary school teacher and, between 1940 and 1942, she was central president of the Girls Association.
In 1947, she left teaching to become the assistant to the general secretary of the Women’s Foreign Mission and went on to work for the Kirk in George Street for the next 28 years.
Betty lived in Morningside with her mother and channelled her energy into working for the church overseas.
In 1950, she became associate general secretary of the Women’s Foreign Mission and was made general secretary five years later.
When the overseas council was formed in 1964, she became one of its general secretaries, along with the Rev John M Hamilton and the Rev Dr Alexander King.
When Mr Hamilton retired in 1972, she became the first woman in sole charge of the assembly committee.
At that time, she was responsible for organising 200 missionaries, as well as missionary associates and the administration of the overseas council.
She travelled widely, especially to Africa and India, in order to appreciate fully the work being done and the needs of the different regions.
She helped introduce a grant for missionaries to afford a local holiday while overseas and ensured that missionaries who had died were mentioned, alongside deceased ministers, at the final session of the General Assembly each year.
She contributed significantly to the ecumenical movement – she was a delegate to the Third Assembly of the World Council of Churches at New Delhi in 1961, and to the meeting of the Commission of World Mission and Evangelism in Mexico City in 1963.
Throughout her life, Betty had a curiosity and interest in people. She had wide-ranging hobbies including playing bridge, going out for meals, and oil painting.
Betty played golf at the Merchant’s Company Golf Course and was a member and a past president of the Edinburgh Soroptimist Club, where she was awarded a special medal and made a life member. She loved the theatre, took out a season ticket to the Lyceum and visited Pitlochry Theatre regularly. She also generously supported many charities.
Betty was a member of Palmerston Place Church since her arrival in Edinburgh in 1947, until she died. She was ordained an elder in 1972, the first woman elder in the congregation.
She spent her last three years at Cherryholme House, where she was well looked after and where staff said she was a joy.