10th January 1946 – 19th January 2017
Today we attended the funeral and memorial service for my very good friend the Rev John Renton ( John is on the extreme right of the above picture).
I first met John when we started attending Kemnay Parish Church in 1993. We wanted to get to know people in the church so we decided to have a social evening and invite two couples from the church. One of those couples was the church minister and his wife, John and Morag. We did not know either them very well at the time but after a lovely evening together which was full of food, joy and laughter – we all “struck it off” and became very good friends. This friendship was to develop over the years and as time passed we started to go on holiday together including weekend visits to hotels and cottages and then eventually we went on cruise holidays together – affectionately we are known as the ‘group of six’.
As time passed we all became very close friends and supported each other through some difficult times of illness and bereavement but also enjoyed many very happy times together.
I came to know John not only as my church minister but as close friend and confidant. He was always a great listener and encourager. He was always respectful of his role as a Minister of the Gospel but managed to set aside the formality of that part of his live when we met socially.
I came to know him as a very loving, caring and sensitive person who also had a sense of humour with the capacity to transcend into bouts of uncontrollable laughter. They say laughter is a great tonic and he was definitely blessed with that capacity 😉
John combined his role as Parish Minister with a whole range of other roles including being a student, committee chairman at both Presbytery and National levels for the Kirk, project manager for two major refurbishment projects at the church and school’s chaplain for the three schools in our village.
This was to be the start of a lasting and deep friendship which lead to a holiday each valentines weekend and also our bi-annual October cruises – These six friends have enjoyed many unforgettable times with much relaxing and laughter. But we have also enjoyed each others support through difficult times. John was always a gentleman with a quiet countenance with his keen sense of humour.
There is one story I would like to recount which always make me chuckle when I think of it.
This was one occasion in church where we saw John ‘lose it’ – in uncontrollable laughter. This was one Christmas morning when John would asked the children of the church to bring along their favourite Christmas gift. Our daughter Fiona (set up by mum and dad) brought a strange glass tubular liquid-filled glass object. When asked to bring the object and give it to John she did so. When in his hand the liquid started to boil fiercely. He looked at it then asked Fiona what is was – “it is a Passion Meter,” she said. This reduced John to a state of uncontrollable laughter – so much so that he had to turn away from the congregation to try to compose himself. But each time he turned back to the congregation – again he would start to laugh uncontrollably. The congregation also saw the joke and were also laughing in a way seldom seen in church. Who could say church is boring !!!
He was to return the favour at Fiona’s wedding when he presented the happy couple with their own Passion Meter. When Fiona tried it, it failed to bubble!!!! Much laughter ensued once again 🙂
I also recall John’s keen-ness to encourage the use of contemporary music in the church. There was a Music Group consisting of a range of instruments including
recorders, brass, guitars and more. Later the church praise band was formed – John’s style of involving as many people as possible in a church service was, I feel, a good thing. His was not a single handed ministry, it was very much a team approach with the goal to seek out the gifts which people had and see them utilised in the life of the church.
He involved as many people as possible in so many different ways. The Pentecost in the Park events in 2000 and 2010 was a case in point when many members of the congregation worked together, under his leadership to put together a weekend long event in the church and marquee in the village pleasure park. It was always his ambition to do this he told me. He did this not once but twice 😉
The Millennium project which saw the refurbishment of the Church Centre and its transformation into a vibrant facility which is now used not just for church groups but also community groups was a great initiative in bringing the Church and Community closer together. The refurbishment of the church building – again John was the driving force behind that project whilst he would also continue his considerable workload as Parish Minister.
John was more than just the Minister at Kemnay Parish Church, he fulfilled a very wide range of roles and responsibilities. As a member of the School Chaplaincy team he conducted assemblies in the three schools in Kemnay and also conducted the moral aspect of the primary school’s sex education curriculum.
One demonstration of John’s caring nature happened when on one of our early cruises – a novice wine waiter spilled a full glass of wine all over John, an accident of course. The Maitre d was very quickly on the scene reassuring John that the waiter would be disciplined for his incompetence. John insisted that no action be taken and asked that the wine waiter should continue to serve our table for the rest of the cruise. He even went to see the Maitre d the following evening to stress that he wanted no action taken against the Wine Waiter. Of course John’s white shirt was cleaned at the ship’s expense and the wine waiter continued to serve us each evening – without any further ‘spill incidents’. This incident actually exposed a very caring aspect of John’s nature which I witnessed on a number of occasions where he wanted to give an individual a second or indeed third chance. He was always keen to practice the act of forgiveness – which of course was a core aspect of his faith.
I feel that John has lived a very faithful life which started when he gave his life to God at the young age of 11 years all the way through to his last months when he had to deal with the pain and discomfort of a failing body.
I will miss our times together – coffee with the boys, discussing world matter and putting the world to rights and generally relaxing. I also look forward to the wonderful hope a reunion in Gods presence after this live is over.
The following bible texts are appropriate to end this post in the context of the life lived by my good friend – John Renton.
Until we meet again – Mizpah
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
And concerning the hope of things to come.
Revelation Ch21 Vs4
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”