Moderator-Designate: I'm fit, well and ready for the year ahead
Published on 23 April, 2015
The Moderator-Designate of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rev Dr Angus Morrison, battled illness last year. Now with his health restored he says he's in good spirits and ready for the year ahead.
Dr Morrison's diagnosis led to him becoming the first Moderator-Designate in history to withdraw from the role. After accepting the nomination in October 2013, ill health forced him to step aside just weeks before the General Assembly the following May. The Church subsequently invited him to take up the position following his return to fitness, and he will step into the role at next month's General Assembly. In Scotland, prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men accounting for 19.6% of all cancers diagnosed in men.*
In a frank and moving interview in May's edition of Life and Work, the independent Church of Scotland magazine, Dr Morrison expresses regret he did not consult doctors sooner.
'I am a man who is very slow to go to the doctor with anything and I would just encourage anyone with worries about the same sort of thing to go as soon as possible and have it checked it. It can be easily treated. The important thing is to have it treated in good time.'
Dr Morrison told magazine editor, Lynne McNeil: "I had prostate cancer. I am full of gratitude to the team at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee who carried out my surgery. The doctors involved in my treatment are confident it has been successful. I was overwhelmed by the number of people all over the Church who wrote to assure me of their prayers. I fully believe that this had its own impact on the situation. Prayer is power."
Becoming the first Moderator-Designate in the memory of the Church to withdraw from the role as the Church's ambassador was not an easy decision, but he is confident it was the right move. "It all happens for a reason. It is clear to me, looking back that John (the Rt Rev John Chalmers, who stepped in last April to take up the role) was well prepared and well equipped to address the issues that were prominent during his year. I see God's hand in all of that."
The decision to withdraw and in so doing become the first Moderator-Designate in the memory of the Church to take such a step, was not one easily made, but he is confident it was the right one. He said he was humbled when the 2014 General Assembly asked that he be considered for nomination in 2015, if his health permitted.
Now after a full recovery from the major surgery which followed his diagnosis and the power of prayer which helped him through it, he is ready to take up the role of Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. 'It was so kind and gracious of the Assembly to give me the opportunity. It is a great honour and a great responsibility and I'm very indebted to them.'
His experience of healthcare in the National Health Service as a result of his illness and a desire to champion the cause of hospices will play a key role during his Moderatorial year.
"I have been hugely impressed with the hospices that I have known, both on the islands and in the mainland. The care and compassion that's shown in difficult situations is amazing. They always need our support."
Born in Glencoe in 1953, he was one of three children born to his father Norman and his mother Mary Ann and was brought up moving between Oban, Stromness and Edinburgh until he turned 12 when the family settled in Oban. Medicine had initially appealed to the young Angus, but it was to ministry that he felt drawn in his later years at school After completing a classics degree, he began training for the ministry initially within the Free Presbyterian Church, enjoying placements in Glasgow, Dingwall and Inverness.
It was during his seven-year ministry in Oban that he met and married Marion in 1983 in her native Fort William. The couple have four children, David (29), Judith (27) Robert (22) and James (17). Judith married in the summer of 2014 and Angus will conduct his eldest son David's wedding in East Lothian this summer. As the older children in the family started to move to the mainland to study and work, Angus felt attracted to the parish of Orwell and Portmoak, near Kinross, where he now serves.
Dr Morrison was appointed a Queen's Chaplain in Ordinary in 2006, will be the first Moderator to be a Gaelic speaker since the Very Rev Dr Tom Murchison served as Moderator in 1969.
Prostate Cancer UK runs a helpline sponsored by specialist nurses. Call 0800 074 8383 to reach a specialist nurse.