Dr. Don MacLeod (at right) gave the following memorial at the funeral of the Rev. William Manson (at left) which was held at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Trenton, Ontario, on November 12, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. Bill was a solid man of faith and member of the Renewal Fellowship, who was unashamed of the Gospel and took a strong stand in matters he felt were authorized and important in Scripture. Bill was also host minister at Cote des Neiges, Montreal QC, where the first Annual Meeting of the Fellowship was held. We feel the loss of his departure but celebrate his life. — Calvin Brown
William Manson, son of Edith Lillian Sommerville and Alastair Black Manson, was born in Neilston, Glasgow, East Renfrewshire, Scotland, on 4 September 1936. His family emigrated to Toronto when he was fifteen. They joined first St. Matthew's Church and subsequently Fallingbrook congregation in Scarborough. Bill received his B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1961 in Honours Classics, and three years later an M. Div. from Knox College.
He was ordained by the Presbytery of East Toronto on 16 June 1964 and was appointed for his ordained missionary year to a three-point charge in Pictou Presbytery: Tatamagouche, Wallace and The Falls, NS. On completion of that appointment he returned to Ontario and served briefly in the Millbrook charge in Peterborough Presbytery before being called to Beaches Church, where he ministered for sixteen years. In 1984 he moved to historic Cote des Neiges congregation, Montreal. He retired 1 June 2001, settling in Brighton.
Bill was a Presbyterian confessionalist, deeply committed to the standards of the denomination, and a doughty and brave controversialist who fearlessly made his position known without rancor or bitterness. Moderator of the Presbytery of Montreal in the tumultuous years 1994-5 he courageously maintained the church's position on chastity and faithfulness in marriage. He was a frequent contributor to the Presbyterian Record, always on timely subjects. His successor, Rev. John Vaudry, wrote of his seventeen years at Cote des Neiges: "During that time he carried out a faithful ministry of Bible teaching, pastoral care and diligent involvement in the courts of the Church. He was very concerned to uphold Reformed doctrine and Presbyterian practice in both congregation and presbytery. Undoubtedly, the long hours of work and the tension encountered in many of the meetings he attended had an effect on his health."
Bill married Janet Blair, a primary school classmate with whom he later reconnected, in Scotland on 7 July 1969. Deeply committed to ministry, together they were partners in service for over forty years.
After being diagnosed with leukemia on 17 September 2010, Bill passed into the nearer presence of his Lord on 6 November.
Thirty-five years ago Bill described the faith in which he lived and died: "Someday we shall find that neither death nor disaster has been able to separate us from the love of God. We shall find that our struggles have availed and our faith has not been in vain."
Remembrances of Rev. Bill Manson
by elder Richard Lancing
I first met Reverend and Mrs. Manson at the Renewal Fellowship in 1983. In fact, we sat at the same table for lunch. However none of us at that time knew that we would even meet again. At the meeting of the Fellowship, I was asked to share about the crisis that Cote des Neiges Presbyterian Church was experiencing — the fact that the Presbytery of Montreal did not sustain our call extended to the Rev. John Vaudry. The Renewal Fellowship was very supportive of the congregation and had offered pastoral care in different forms. But the Reverend Bill Manson was the one who offered support in the most practical way. He applied for the vacancy. No one else wanted to move to Quebec at that time. He was inducted in March 1984.
What the Mansons started as a "mission to French Canada" became a settled pastoral ministry until his retirement 17 years later, the second-longest in the 146-year history of our congregation. They endeared themselves to this multi-ethnic congregation: Scots and Arabs, black and white, Asians and Africans. When invited to speak at our anniversary celebration two years ago, Rev. Manson said to Rev. Vaudry, our current minister, "The pulpit has been yours all along, I was just filler." So generous and gracious was his spirit.
He loved his people and his people loved him back. He preached the Word clearly and faithfully. He took a stand for the Scriptures and sound doctrine. He wrote articles to the Presbyterian Record. He defended solemnity in worship and emphasized repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. As the Reverend Vaudry notes in his book on the history of Cote des Neiges Church, these articles "revealed Mr. Manson's keen intellect, concern for good order, and desire for the well-being of the whole church". During his time as Moderator of the Presbytery of Montreal, he dealt firmly and decisively in a matter of grave importance to the whole of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
He encouraged participation and good administration. He felt that the house of prayer should be protected. He introduced building insurance and an alarm system. He delegated responsibilities according to individual gifts. During his ministry, many improvements to the sanctuary were made: new church lights, electric fans, a new organ, a simultaneous translation system, etc. At worship, he insisted that the sound of the organ should not be louder than the voice of the people praising the Lord. He taught us lessons too numerous to mention at this time. It is hard to realize that it has been nine years since he retired, and it is even harder to know that he is no longer with us.
Our sincere condolences to Jan and Ian and the rest of the family. Their loss, our loss, is heaven's gain.