Obituary: The Rev Dr John Brown

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The Independent Culture
JOHN BROWN was not simply the father of the Chancellor of the Ex-chequer. He was also a significant figure in the Church of Scotland and in the local communities in which he served throughout his life. Greatly loved, he was an able preacher and a superb pastor, distinguished by his selfless concern for those committed to his care - a concern that was important in shaping the future politics of Gordon Brown.

Born in Fife in 1914, Brown went to Bell Baxter School in Cupar before going on to St Andrew's University. He was an excellent student, especially linguistically - and one of the most popular - gaining an MA in 1935, and graduating Bachelor of Divinity with first class honours in 1939. The university bestowed a doctorate of Divinity on him in 1979.

He was ordained and inducted at St Cuthbert's, Dunoon, in 1939, having first served as an assistant at St Katherine's, Newburgh, and then at St Mary's, Govan. He returned to Govan in 1943 for his second ministry, and remained there for 11 years. From 1954 to 1967 he was the minister at St Brycedale, Kirkcaldy, and served as Chaplain at Kirkcaldy High School. His last charge was St John's, Hamilton.

All his ministries were successful. He was disciplined, fond of people and had considerable charm and a lovely sense of humour. He was also a good preacher, thoroughly prepared. I never met a better pastor.

Brown had an ethical, sensitive side to his nature, and was politically orientated - more people like him should enter politics. He was naturally friendly and dedicated to helping people; he and his wife were an extraordinary couple. I am not surprised they produced a son like Gordon.

He married Elizabeth Souter in 1947. They had a very happy marriage and a strong family life - he had a gift for making you feel at home. His three sons have all been successful: as well as Gordon, John, the eldest, is head of public relations for Glasgow City Council and the youngest, Andrew, is a Channel 4 television producer. They are a distinguished family but, more importantly, have remained "nice".

John Brown was a stalwart of the community, continuing to preach at local churches during his long retirement. He had a saintly quality, yet remained very human at the same time. He was involved in charity work and regularly visited patients at Insch Hospital nearby. In 1994, on his 80th birthday, Brown's three sons published a collection of his sermons, A Time To Serve.

John Ebenezer Brown, minister of the church: born Largo, Fife 26 October 1914; ordained 1939; married 1947 Elizabeth Souter (three sons); died Insch, Aberdeenshire 7 December 1998.