6th June 1928 – 16th February 2023
Mary was the first child of Alex and Mary McKinnon and was born into a room and kitchen in McLellan Street in Ibrox, on the southside of Glasgow. She had five siblings, a sister Margaret and four brothers Alex, Martin, Andrew and (me) Matthew. The family lived through the years of the great depression 1929-1939, infamous for its mass unemployment, striking workers, poverty, soup kitchens and deprivation. In spite of the hardships of the day however, it was a very happy family, and our parents’ faith in God gave them strength and faith for the challenges of the day and hope for the future.
When the family moved to Shawlands in 1941 we joined Greenview Gospel Hall (now Greenview Church) and there Mary made many friends. She wrote ‘I became a Christian at 10 and was baptised at Greenview Hall aged 14. This decision to be a Christian has shaped my life’. It certainly did, as she soon became involved in all the works of the Church, later serving in various church committees and was always at the centre of things.
Mary left school at 14 years of age and worked in a local bakery as a shop assistant for 14 years. When mum became terminally ill she left her work, which she loved, to look after her, and to become mother and housekeeper for all of the family. That sense of care for others typified the whole of her life.
Mary later started work in Rolls Royce as a clerkess after my mother’s homecall in 1957, and in due time met John Macfarlane. She had spoken to him about her Christian faith and his need of salvation. This led John to look again at what Christianity was all about, and in time came to accept the truth of the Gospel. John then became a Christian by repentance, and faith in Jesus. Soon their relationship flourished and they were married in Queen’s Park Baptist Church in 1974. They spent many happy years together, while serving the Lord in the church. Sadly John died in the early nineties from angina.
The family all loved and appreciated Mary, and whilst having no children of her own, she supported all of her siblings and their spouses, and her sixteen neices and nephews and their children too!.
For the last two decades and more, Mary was devoted to work amongst asylum seekers and refugees in Glasgow, serving at Queen’s Park Baptist Church’s ‘Drop in Centre’. There she met people from many different countries and social and religious backgrounds. She at times spoke and wrote letters on their behalf, visited them in their homes and became their friend. That friendship was reciprocated as seen in recent years, as so many came to visit her with gifts of food and flowers during the pandemic. Far too many to mention by name but, the Lord knows who you are. The photos above are just a few downloaded from her iPad.
For many years Mary and her sister Margaret spent much time together after the home call of their respective husbands, and when Margaret died in 2011, Muriel and I had Mary almost every Saturday. When she was well into her eighties she surprised me one Saturday by announcing that she had decided to adapt to the 21st Century and could I please buy her one of these tablet things! So that Autumn and Winter she would arrive with her tablet and notepad, and with a load of questions. How does this work, how can I do this etc etc. She would practice all week and come back the following week to tell us how she had managed, and so it continued.
Mary was a very organised person, she seldom went to bed without knowing what her plan was for tomorrow. She meticulously wrote up her diary every day, who phoned, who called, what food she ate, and how the birds were getting on in the nest outside her window! Her daily Bible Reading and Prayer times were a priority for Mary. In a recent blog I was sharing a quote that said ‘ We are all worshippers of someone or something‘. Mary worshipped the God of the Bible, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in singing and action. Always asking the Lord to tell her what He wanted her to do. She was great on Zoom and loved participating in Church services on Sundays, and logging on to the Women’s Prayer Fellowship on a Tuesday afternoon with her friend Lena’s group. All this right up until the weekend before she was called home.
The last words written in Mary’s diary a few weeks before she died said ‘Thanks be to God’, and when she was found in the morning after she died, it was in a kneeling position beside her bed with head resting on her hands. That just seemed so appropriate to all of us who knew and loved Mary.
The the book of Genesis in the Bible says ‘And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.‘ Gen 5.24 – I smile at the story told of a Sunday School Teacher as she explained this text to her children. She reputedly said ‘Well you see, Enoch walked and talked with God every day. One day the time was getting late, so God said to Enoch we’ve walked a long distance together, so why don’t you just come awa’ hame wi’ me’! At Ninety four, Mary was a woman who had walked a long way with the God she loved, since that day as a ten year old when she had asked for her sins to be forgiven and had committed her life to Jesus Christ! So that’s why we can confidently say ‘She’s gone home to be with the Lord‘ just as he promised.
So much more could be said, but in the meantime I, the last of the siblings, and many others will greatly miss Mary, she has been my sister and friend for all of my life, but with others I will treasure her memory until we meet again. And Mary would want me to add ‘Have you considered walking the rest of your life with the God who loves you’?