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Looking Back: Pioneering Industrial Chaplaincies

February 1963

It was in 1941 that the late Dr Robert Mackintosh, then Secretary of the Home Board, first urged the importance of the Church’s message and ministry to the thousands of Scots men and women directed by the Ministry of Labour under wartime exigencies.

From this sprang the ultimate appointment of a full-time Organiser for Industrial Chaplaincies in 1949. The appointment called for a man of exceptional energy and vision, a man well-acquainted with industrial conditions and a wide human yet evangelical concern. In William MacIntyre the Church found that man.

It was his concern for the redemption of that world in which most men spend two-thirds of their waking lives that lay behind every project which Mr MacIntyre undertook. Part-time Industrial Chaplains were appointed in every work-place where management and labour were willing to receive them. At one time there were almost 350 ministers appointed to this service, in which the other Protestant denominations in Scotland also played their part. These were the years of the great hydro-electric projects, and all over the Highlands, often to lonely and well-nigh inaccessible places, “Willie Mac” (as he came to be affectionately known) drove thousands of miles, interviewing engineers, surveyors, and camp managers.

It was his concern for the better understanding of those personal problems, which are so often created by the tensions of modern industrial life, which made Mr MacIntyre a pioneer in the introduction of the study of client-centred counselling as an aid to Industrial Chaplains in their ministry in factory and mine. Arranging for honorary chaplains in Scottish ports (in fruitful liaison with the British Sailors’ Society), interviewing officials of trade unions or employers’ federations, presenting the case for better technical education and employment of youth in industry, organising instruction courses for groups of Chaplains – all this was involved in being, in his own person, a ‘bridge’ between Church and industry.

Mr MacIntyre has retired from this organising work and is now parish minister of Tighnabruaich and Kilfinan. At a meeting of the Home Board in December, Mr MacIntyre received  a presentation in recognition of his outstanding services.

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