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Friday July 9 2021

Looking Back: 'the Epic of the Scots Memorial'

An extract from reports of the General Assembly of 1949, telling the story of one minister's bravery during the Battle for Jerusalem the previous year.

Saturday, 28th May

Then came the most exciting story of this year’s Assembly – the epic of the Scots Memorial in JERUSALEM, told by the Rev. David L. Cattanach. The hero of this stirring tale was the Rev. W. Clark Kerr, formerly our chaplain in Jerusalem. In the midst of the ‘mad orgy of destruction’ which characterised the recent war inside Jerusalem the Scots Kirk and Hospice were on the no-man’s-land between the contending Jews and Arabs.

Mr. Clark Kerr remained at his post, all alone, while the bullets and mortars whined and thudded around the Kirk. He carried on his duties. The Kirk bell called men to worship – though no one came. On a certain Sunday the congregation consisted of one person – a newspaper correspondent in search of a story. Gradually the members of the congregation grew until seventy people – of all nationalities – came, dodging the cross-fire of the opposing parties, to worship in our church.

Mr. Clark Kerr alone was able to go to perform the last rites of a Christian minister to the dying Count Bernadotte. And by his presence – respected by both sides – he saved the property from looting and destruction as well as ministered to the spiritual needs of those who remained in that part of the city of Jerusalem.

Mr. Clark Kerr himself then spoke. He was given a most enthusiastic reception by the fathers and brethren. His plea was for the continuance of the Scots Memorial in Jerusalem – a strategic point in the present world situation. In this he was completely supported by an elder who visited Jerusalem soon after the firing ceased. This elder, representing Hawick Presbytery, was the Rt. Hon. Walter Elliot.

Mr. Clark Kerr would no doubt be pleased to know that St Andrew's Scots Memorial Church is very much still in existence.

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