Donald MacDonald was one of the best known and loved ministers in the Free Church of Scotland during the mid-twentieth century. He was born in Ness on the Island of Lewis in 1910. Converted during a period of revival there in the early 1920s, he became a communicant member at the age of 14. Leaving school at 15 it was four years later before he found a job, and that was in what seemed to him to be far-away Argyll. While there he responded to the Lord’s call to the Christian ministry.
After a University course, he studied at the Free Church College in Edinburgh and was ordained in 1941. His first charge was in the pleasant rural parish of Urray in Easter Ross where he exercised a fruitful ministry for 17 years.
In 1958 he was called to what was to be the great challenge of his life. The congregation of Greyfriars in Inverness, numbering about 60 people and in very considerable debt, had just been granted admission to the Free Church. Aware of the difficulties which the newly-emerging congregation faced, he threw himself into the work with total commitment. Under his powerful preaching and constant pastoral visitation, supported by earnest prayer, the congregation began to flourish. ‘His ministry in Inverness, for sheer spiritual blessing and growth was probably without parallel in the Free Church of Scotland this century’.
The spiritual vitality of his ministry meant that his services were in constant demand throughout the Free Church. In 1972 he received the highest honour that it is in the Church’s power to bestow, being elected Moderator of the General Assembly. Later that year he suffered a heart attack from which he recovered to give some four more years to the pastoral care of his beloved flock. He died as he had wished ‘in harness’, on April 15, 1977.
In his earliest days as a Christian and throughout the whole of his ministry he developed a deep understanding of spiritual experience, and excelled in preaching on many aspects of it. His teaching married seriousness with a tenderness of spirit born out of his own spiritual pilgrimage; it combined an emphasis on God’s holiness with a sense of the wonder of communion with him. A selection of fourteen of his sermons was published by the Trust in 1988 under the title, Christian Experience.