Rev Dr Russell Barr becomes Church of Scotland Moderator
REV Dr Russell Barr, who has been the minister of Cramond Kirk since 1993, has become the new Moderator of the Church of Scotland.
Dr Barr is married to Margaret, a retired secondary school biology teacher, with whom he has a son, Robert, and daughter, Lindsey.
He has three grandchildren Eva, Caterina and Alessandro.
Dr Barr – who grew up in Kilmarnock and ministered in Easterhouse in Glasgow and also in Greenock before moving to Cramond – left school by mutual consent with no qualifications and a dream to become a professional golfer.
He played off scratch when he was 15 and spent practically every waking moment on the golf course, winning multiple schoolboy competitions.
Although his parents were keen to encourage his sporting career, they insisted he pass some exams and Dr Barr enrolled at Langside College in Glasgow to gain some qualifications.
It was there where he met an inspirational history teacher called Bill Hodgson who made him realise that he had academic potential.
Dr Barr said: “Meeting Bill changed my life – he saw something in me that I didn’t at the time.
“I had been made to feel I was stupid but he took me under his wing, had me round to his house every Tuesday night for my tea and for the first time in my life I realised that I could pass exams.
“This was the point when I was able to make choices and chose to go to Edinburgh University.”
Dr Barr said Mr Hodgson’s wife, Betty, only learned his real name after being invited to his wedding and up until that point referred to him as “Tuesday”.
In addition to his doctorate, the Moderator Designate holds a degree in history and philosophy from Edinburgh University as well as an honours and masters degrees in theology from New College. He won the divinity honours class prize and in 1978 was awarded the Sir Will Y Darling Memorial prize as student of the year.
Reflecting on his younger days, Dr Barr said: “I lived and breathed playing golf and my parents were very happy to encourage me.
“But they wanted me to pass a higher because they knew professional sport was very difficult and they were right.
“I gave up playing golf for a long time because I found it so frustrating but I went back to it when my son took up the sport as a boy and now I only play for fun.
“But I would encourage people to follow their passions and stick with it. If it works, good and well but if not don’t look back in anger, you had a good go.”
Dr Barr also set up Edinburgh-based homelessness charity Fresh Start in 1999.
The new Moderator said last week that the scale of homelessness in Scotland was a “damning indictment” on modern society and said that politicians must do much more to tackle the problem.