Obituary: Rev Tom Sinclair, 76

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Tributes have been paid from across the Church of Scotland for an Edinburgh-trained minister and presbytery clerk who was killed in a traffic accident on Waverley Bridge, while attending last week’s General Assembly meeting.

Reverend Tom Sinclair died aged 76 when he was knocked down by a car outside Waverley Station on May 19.

Born in Glasgow, Rev Sinclair attended Netherlee Primary School and then Eastwood Academy. His home congregation was Stamperland. He studied at Glasgow University in the 1950s and early 60s, working in publishing between two spells as a student. In 1963, he enrolled at Edinburgh University for a degree in arts, and then passed the licentiate in theology qualification.

He graduated as a bachelor of divinity in 1993, serving as student assistant at the Braids Church in Morningside during his full-time studies before a probationary year at Holborn Central Church in Aberdeen.

Rev Sinclair was a well-known and popular figure at the General Assembly, easily recognisable by his shock of thick, white hair. However, he was described as a shy man, who preferred a quiet word in a corridor rather than making speeches from the podium.

At the time of his death, Rev Sinclair served in parishes in Sutherland and the Western Isles. He became minister of Eddrachillis Parish Church in the parish of Scourie on the north coast of Sutherland in 1967, moving to Martin’s Memorial Church in Stornoway in 1976. He also served in a variety of roles in the community, including as justice of the peace for Sutherland, district councillor for Durness and Eddrachillis, and chairman of children’s panels in Sutherland and the Western Isles. A colleague from the Presbytery of Lewis, Rev Hugh Stewart, said Rev Sinclair was a well-known and well-loved figure across the Western Isles.

He added: “Tom’s whole life was taken up with the promotion of the gospel within and through the Church of Scotland, its courts, conferences and General Assemblies. He was a gentle, caring and incisive person. He was well loved for the amiable and jolly manner in which he carried out his duties.

“He will be remembered with great affection and thankfulness.”

Rev Sinclair retired in 2004, having performed almost 40 years of active ministry. He is survived by his wife, Pam, whom he married in 1969, and his son, Jonathan, who lives in Edinburgh.

Commenting at the General Assembly, the Moderator, the Right Rev John Chalmers, who regularly attended meetings with Rev Sinclair, talked of the minister’s love for the Church of Scotland and the General Assembly. He said: “His death is a painful tragedy for his wife and family and will come as a real blow to the Presbytery of Lewis.”