Sandy McDonald (minister)

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For other people of the same name, see Sandy McDonald.
The Very Rev. Dr. Alexander McDonald
Born (1937-11-05) 5 November 1937 (age 78)
Bishopbriggs, Scotland
Nationality British
Other names Sandy
Occupation Retired minister
Spouse(s) Helen McDonald (?-15 July 2007) (her death)
Children Blair McDonald
Karen McDonald
David Tennant (born David John McDonald)

Alexander McDonald (born 5 November 1937)[1] is a Scottish retired minister. He served as a minister of the Church of Scotland, and was the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (1997-8).


McDonald was born in Bishopbriggs in 1937, the son of Jessie Helen Low and Alexander M. McDonald.[1] He worked in the timber industry in the 1950s, prior to National Service in the Royal Air Force. He studied at the University of Glasgow before training for the ministry at Trinity College.[2]

Following theological studies in the 1960s, his first position after completing his studies was in the rural Church of Scotland, in Longriggend, north Lanarkshire, he served as minister at St David's Parish Church, Bathgate (1968–1974), then at St Mark's Parish Church, Ralston (1974–1988) and then as General Secretary of the Church of Scotland's Board of Ministry until he retired in 2002. He was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1997–8. His formal title (following the end of his Moderatorial year) is The Very Reverend Dr Alexander McDonald.

Television career[edit]

In the early 1980s, he co-presented the Scottish Television religious magazine programme That's the Spirit! and was also interviewed on VIP, also an STV religious show. His role as Moderator of the Church of Scotland meant he was one of the public figures who led tributes to Princess Diana upon her death in 1997 in a BBC broadcast. In May 2008, he made a non-speaking cameo appearance in the Doctor Who episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp", playing the part of a footman alongside his son. They also appeared together on an episode of celebrity Ready Steady Cook. He was one of the interviewees for his son's Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards in 2015, during which David dedicated his award to his father.[3]

Personal life[edit]

McDonald survives his wife Helen, daughter of former footballer Archie McLeod, who died on 15 July 2007.[4][5] He has a daughter named Karen, and two sons - Blair and David, the latter a well known actor with the stage name David Tennant.

In a 2015 interview,[6] he disclosed that he is terminally ill with pulmonary fibrosis, a degenerative lung condition. In the same interview, he spoke in support of "right to die" campaigns.


  1. ^ a b Fasti Ecclesiæ Scoticanæ: The Succession of Ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation, Volume 10. Oliver and Boyd. 1981. ISBN 9780715204955. 
  2. ^ "Very Rev. Dr. Alexander McDonald". Frost's Scottish Who's Who. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Tributes pour in for Helen". Paisley Daily Express. 20 July 2007. 
  5. ^ "Deaths". Glasgow Evening Times. 19 July 2007. 
  6. ^ "David Tennant's terminally ill Reverend dad calls on Church of Scotland to back right-to-die". Daily Record. 27 February 2015. 
Religious titles
Preceded by
John H. McIndoe
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Succeeded by
Prof. Alan Main