Jean Symon, Session Clerk at St James’ Church, gave the following speech at Rev. Graham Crawford’s Farewell Party in the Fellowship Hall on Saturday 06 February 2016, prior to handing over gifts from the congregation to Graham and Jane (ad libs in italics):
There are good stories about fishing……
Fourteen years ago or so, we went in search of a minister to lead this faithful congregation.
The search was quite long, and proved to be quite difficult. There were those who really wanted to join us here in Lossiemouth, and they were very keen; it’s just that we hadn’t yet found the right minister.
So, although, we travelled to picturesque spots in the south of Scotland, meeting people, we were back to the drawing board.
So we felt we had to fish in deeper, more remote, waters.
And, suddenly, here was a message and I wasn’t sure whether it was safe to open it – it might contain a virus. There was a message from something very strange: a “Pictish Reiver”.
And, of course, I hadn’t heard of a Pictish Reiver.
The deep waters turned out to be the Atlantic, and what we had caught turned out to be someone serious about a move to Scotland.
In emails, he asked lots of questions about St James’ Church, everything relevant. He had quite a sense of humour. He loved to fish, spoke about football (a lot), model railways (a lot) and then we discovered he was Scottish.
Graham Crawford travelled from the east coast of USA, and seemed to like what he saw. He preached at St Giles’ Church in Elgin, was interviewed and we called him here.
Graham, you and your wonderful family came to stay. You have worked tirelessly in Lossiemouth with your folk at St James’, but you also worked locally in town getting to know everyone outside of the church, and you knew these people by name too. You have a real gift with people and you have many, many skills. Your pastoral visits are remembered. You welcomed-in total strangers. Not content with your work here, you also were needed at Moray Presbytery, and you had a huge workload there, at a difficult time when all churches had to conform to new legislation.
Your preaching, generous spirit and stories are well known (the stories, because you have a tendency to repeat them). You are travelling further south, but you will be well received by the people of Perth, and closer to your own folk and your own home.
This is a gift from everyone at St James’ Church. Your name is now added to a very short list of preachers, who stayed a while – as you have done – and weren’t forgotten.
Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you, Jane and Thomas all the best in your new charge at Kinnoull Parish Church, and in your new home.
Haste ye back!