From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Rev. David H.C. Read dies at age 91

Date 02 Feb 2001 12:32:11for <,>; Fri, 2 Feb 2001 12:47:23 -0800 (PST)

Note #6368 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


Rev. David H.C. Read dies at age 91

Long-time pastor of Madison Avenue church was a renowned preacher

by John Filiatreau

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Rev. Dr. David Haxton Carswell Read, who served as
senior pastor of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church (MAPC) from 1956 until
his retirement in 1989, died at his home on Jan. 7. He was 91.

Read, who became MAPC's pastor emeritus on his retirement, was an author and
a world-renowned preacher and ecumenist.

A story on the church's Web site says of Read: 
"Believing with Karl Barth that the preacher should stand with the Bible in
one hand and the morning newspaper in the other, his sermons, which might
include quotes from Humpty Dumpty or Samuel Johnson, Shakespeare, Alice in
Wonderland or James Bond -- and once a year were preached in rhyme as
'Christmas Tales for All Ages," much loved and eagerly awaited by the
congregation -- were always designed to help his listeners use Biblical
perspectives to wrestle with contemporary issues and problems."

Read, in characteristic style, said in a recent sermon, "Loyalty to our
Christian tradition by no means excludes the famous reminder of Oliver
Cromwell to some of my Scottish Presbyterian ancestors, 'I beseech you
gentlemen, in the bowels of Christ, conceive it possible that you may be

He was quoted once as having said, in a conversation about preaching, "The
worst sin is dullness."

While serving as senior minister of MAPC, Read also was a National Radio
Pulpit preacher for more than 25 years, and for nine years (1981-1989) had a
weekly program of his own, Thinking It Over, on Sundays on WOR-AM radio. He
was a founder and leader of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an
interfaith organization dedicated to fostering religious freedom and
understanding around the world.

He was the author of more than 30 books, most of them collections of
sermons; the first was published in 1936, and he was at work on another at
the time of his death. He also wrote numerous articles for religious
publications, held lectureships around the world, and was awarded nine
honorary degrees. Moreover, he was a co-founder and editor of The Living
Pulpit, a quarterly journal whose aim is to help Protestant, Roman Catholic
and Jewish clergy to be more effective preachers.

Read, a native of Cupar, Fife, Scotland, was educated at the University of
Edinburgh and pursued further studies in Montpelier, Strasbourg, Paris and
Marburg. He received a B.D. degree (with distinction in dogmatics) from New
College, Edinburgh, and was ordained in 1936.

During World War II, Read served as a chaplain to the 51st Highland Division
of the British Army. He was captured by the Germans in Normandy in 1940 and
was a prisoner of war in various prison camps until 1945. While a prisoner
in a POW camp in Germany, he gave a series of talks, titled "Quest," which
so impressed his fellow prisoners that they smuggled a copy out of the camp
and had it published in London, under the title, "Prisoner's Quest."

 From 1949 to 1955 Read was the first-ever campus chaplain at the University
of Edinburgh. In 1952 he was appointed Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen in

A 1956 guest appearance in the pulpit of a New York church brought him to
the attention of the Madison Avenue church, which just then was looking for
an "intellectually strong" minister.

MAPC has designated a new columbarium planned as part of a renovation and
development project the David H.C. Read Memorial Chapel, and established a
fund to receive gifts toward its construction. The cost is estimated at
$500,000. Read was cremated, in keeping with his wish, and his ashes are to
be placed in the columbarium.

MAPC's Renewal Campaign, of which Read was a director, so far has raised
$8.235 million; after it reaches $8.5 million, additional contributions will
qualify for a one-dollar-for-two matching grant from the Henry Luce

Read is survived by his wife, Patricia Gilbert-Read, whom he married in
1936; their son, Rory, of London; his brother, Robert, 93, of Edinburgh; and
two nephews.

Expressions of sympathy may take the form of contributions to the David H.C.
Read Memorial Chapel Fund, 921 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021.

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