Parishioners at Airdrie High Church paid tribute to the life and work of a beloved former minister at a special commemoration service on the second anniversary of his death.
Reverend George McCabe died at the age of 91 in April 2020, less than a month into the original COVID lockdown and with only eight mourners able to attend his funeral in person at a time of the tightest restrictions.
Family members and his many friends from the North Bridge Street congregation celebrated his memory with a long-awaited service honoring his “mighty ministry” of more than three decades and his contribution to the wider Airdrie community.
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More than eighty people attended the thanksgiving service, led by High Church minister Rev Ian McDonald and which included personal reflections from family members and church elders.
Photographs of Rev McCabe at work and home had also been collected and were displayed in the church hall as worshipers shared their memories of his ministry.
He was first appointed to the High Kirk in 1963, and was described as “a very gifted preacher and caring pastor” who went on to become a “weel-kent figure in the town” – including by standing at Airdrie Cross smoking his trademark pipe to make himself available to talk to church members and local residents.
Rev McCabe supported the church’s organisations, including attending its popular Sunday school trips, and served as the “dedicated” chaplain of Airdrie Academy and also to the Territorial Army.
The well-respected minister was actively involved in numerous local projects including being on the planning committee for St Andrew’s Hospice ahead of its opening in 1986, and was also a great supporter of the Burns society.
He was also a proud Airdrieonians fan, spending Saturday afternoons on the east terracing of the old Broomfield in the town center and “never shy about recounting the successes of the team from the pulpit on Sundays”.
Senior elder Sandy Paul, who was part of the appointment committee which brought Rev McCabe to Airdrie High, said: “Little did we know that we were granting ourselves a steady and stabilizing influence and leadership that would serve us faithfully and well for 33 years.
“There’s no doubt that he influenced the lives of many people – he was a well-known and much-liked personality in the town and it was a privilege to work and worship with him throughout his long and dedicated service to Airdrie High Church.”
George McCabe was born in Edinburgh on December 18 1928, and served in the Royal Navy before originally becoming a Baptist minister in Darlington.
He then served with the Church of Scotland back in his home city before moving to Airdrie; and he moved back to the capital after retiring from the High Kirk in 1996.
Rev McCabe married his beloved wife Janet in 1957, and the couple had four sons – Alisdair, Calum, Michael and Stephen – and grandchildren who were among those paying tributes at his funeral and anniverary memorial.
Church elder David Kennedy said: “This was a unique service for the life and ministry of one of the giant figures of the High Kirk, [who] touched so many lives in our congregation, our town and beyond. and changed so many lives for the better.
“The personal reminiscences beautifully illustrated George’s character through so many small episodes in his ministry and life; and the service which was a moving and respectful way to remember our great minister.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.