Aberdeen ,

Civic reception held to commemorate 100th anniversary of death of North-east Unitarian

A civic reception has been held at Aberdeen’s Town House yesterday evening (Monday 21 January) to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of social activist and Unitarian Minister, the Reverend Alexander Webster.

Born in Oldmeldrum, Reverend Webster was a minister for thirty-six years, more than half of which were spent in Aberdeen.

He was a member of the Aberdeen Labour Committee and served as vice-president of the Scottish Labour Party during Keir Hardie’s leadership. He was also involved in the Land Restoration League and the Aberdeen Clarion Club, a group which raised issues such as workers’ rights.

An inspirational orator, he was well known for his open air services which were held on the city’s Broad Hill and attracted hundreds of people each time.

He also instigated ‘Fresh Air Fortnight’ which saw in excess of 8,000 children leave the city over a 20 year period to enjoy a healthy holiday in the good, clean air of Aberdeenshire and which eventually led to the establishment of the present Linn Moor School.

Located in Peterculter and run by local charity VSA, Linn Moor now provides specialist residential care and education for children and young adults with autism, related conditions such as social and communication difficulties, and learning disability.

The Lord Provost of Aberdeen Barney Crockett said: “One of the first things I wanted to do when I became Lord Provost was to honour Reverend Alexander Webster and I am pleased to be able to host a civic event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death.

“Reverend Webster was a greatly admired social activist and unitarian and his dedication to equality of opportunity for all and the positive impact of his commitment and ethos continue to benefit local people, particularly children and young adults, today.”

Reverend Caroline Cormack, Aberdeen Unitarians said: “Reverend Webster was an incredibly dedicated and conscientious man who extended his ministry way beyond the confines of his church and into the community.

“He saw the need for change in Scotland and was not afraid to stand up for the reforms that were required.

“Whilst he may have died 100 years ago, there is still so much we can learn from how he behaved and all that he achieved.

“We try to continue his work in ways appropriate for today, such as running community cafes, supporting equal marriage, playing an active part in local interfaith events and being members of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum.

“He was an inspiration to us all and someone whom the church is very proud of, hence the reason we wanted to mark the anniversary of his passing in this way.”

The Lord Provost hosted the civic reception which more than 50 people attended including descendants of Alexander Webster, representatives of VSA and present-day Unitarians. Mrs Joan Cook, current president of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches was also present.

The Aberdeen Unitarian Church is located on Skene Terrace and is a member of the Scottish Unitarian Association, formed by the Scottish churches of the denomination in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow in the early part of the 19th century.

For more information visit www.aberdeen-unitarians.org.uk