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Virginiatown, Ontario :
Rev. George Soutar, Memorial, 1979.

George Soutar, newspaper clipping, 1979

Memorial for minister

Tribute paid to minister


TRIBUTES TO the Rev. George Soutar were paid at a memorial service at Centenary United Church on Tuesday afternoon.

He was the senior minister of this historic church since 1962 and died suddenly following a heart attack at Burlington on Friday evening, Dec. 7.

Burial took place at Woodland Cemetery.

The Rev. Dr. W. Robertson, of St. Andrew's United Church, Sault Ste. Marie, where George Soutar had ministered before coming to Hamilton, described him as one of Canada's great preachers, and added, "He passed by like a shooting star, and now we mourn that he has gone."

As preacher, teacher and special friend he touched many people, who, because of the radiance of his personality, and the knowledge he brought of the Comforter, had been changed.

The Rev. Dr. Frank Brisbin, former Hamilton minister, now secretary of the division of com­muni­cation, United Church of Canada, at its Toronto head­quarters, said: "Hamilton, since George's arrival, has never been quite the same. George was not the kind of minister who faded into the woodwork in dull conformity with local customs. He loved the church and life in general. He demanded and gave of his best."

A favorite quotation which Mr. Soutar mentioned often was: "He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men; who has loved little children; who has achieved his niche with the improved rose, a perfect poem or well ploughed field; who leaves the world better than he found it; whose life has been an inspiration and whose memory is a benediction."

Dr. Brisbin added: "Many, many will testify that by these standards George achieved notable success. The ministry was dear to him. He probably worked much too hard at it.

"His round, bright face and laughing eyes will long be with us. But his eyes flashed when he was convinced something was not right. Sometimes I think George loved to battle."

George Soutar will be missed profoundly -- by his wife Kaye, his son Ian, his sister Jean, and his extended family, said Dr. Brisbin, as well by Hamilton and the congregation of Centenary -- "twice deprived suddenly of its minister in recent years".

Rev. George Soutar

Ian Soutar says: "Following is a Facebook posting which puts the rest of his life into perspective . . . ."

My father who died in 1979 was a well known United Church Minister in Hamilton Ontario. Just a few years earlier he took 6 months off to travel to India to study Buddhism at an ancient university. When he returned he started the Comparative Religion Studies at Sheridan College in Oakville.

He supported Gay Rights starting in the 1950s. In 1963 or so I remember being drawn in as a pawn to protect a new organist and choir director at the church who was gay. Dad got me to take singing lessons from the new choir director. I won a prize for singing at the Royal Conservatory that year.

When the elders of the church decided to fire the new choir director he said "Why would you fire him just because he was gay?" They replied "How would you like your son to be taking singing lessons from him?" My Dad replied "My son is taking singing lessons from him and he won first prize at the singing competition!" . . . and so they fell into his trap and the organist/choir director remained for some years until he retired.

Dad remained a social reformer all his life. He helped administer the Wesley Center for the homeless in Hamilton. He also educated people in the congregation through church member pediatrician MDs to avoid circumcision. Coming from a background in Scotland he viewed it as genital mutilation.

In the last decade of his career he refused to marry couples who had not lived together for a month to make sure they could stand living together. He said he kept records of marriages going back to 1949 and the success rate was too poor to risk marriage without knowing if you could stand the sound of the other person snoring or other silly issues!

As a son I was drawn into several plots to protect people in the congregation. I have a lot of love for my dad and he set the moral standards for my own life.

-- Ian Soutar.

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