‘Father of the Church’ The Rev Alestair Bennett

The Church of Scotland’s longest ordained minister has died at the age of 104.

The Rev Alestair Bennett, who latterly served Strathkinness parish, Fife, unofficially became the ‘Father of the Church’ in 2011, having been a minister for 73 years.

Born a son of the manse at Tighnabruiach, Argyll, Mr Bennett was brought up there and in East Wemyss, where Sir Jimmy Shand was in the class above him.

After leaving Buckhaven High School at 16 he spent five and a half years in the Merchant Navy.

In 1931 he returned home and enrolled at Glasgow University to study arts and divinity.

He was ordained into the ministry of the Church of Scotland in 1938 in his first parish at Newarthill, Lanarkshire.

The following year he married Helen Cruikshank, a hospital almoner.

He volunteered as an army chaplain in 1940 and saw war service in Burma, where he finished up as senior chaplain of the Western African Division.

He moved to Woodlands Church, Glasgow, in 1948 and was called to Kilmacolm Old Kirk in 1958 and in 1968 to Strathkinness.

He courted controversy in 1966 by preaching a sermon questioning the nature of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and was the subject of an investigation by the church authorities.

His daughter Kay died in 1980 and his wife Helen in 1997.

Mr Bennett lived at Rosturk House Care Home in Cupar.

He is survived by son Robin, daughters Helen and Anna, nine grandchildren as well as 11 great-grandchildren.