Geoff Shaw (minister)

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Geoffrey Mackintosh Shaw (9 April 1927 – 28 April 1978) was a Church of Scotland minister who had an unconventional ministry outside the normal parish structures and became the first Convener of Strathclyde Regional Council.

Coming from a wealthy Edinburgh family, he was educated at Edinburgh Academy. He left with the intention of studying law at university with the aim of becoming a lawyer. He was called up for National Service in the Royal Navy, during which he felt a calling to become a minister.

On his return he studied arts and divinity at Edinburgh University, graduating MA in 1950. As part of his theological studies, he went to Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. In New York he experienced working with people from the poorest parts of the city. Back in Scotland, together with Walter and Elizabeth Fyfe and John and Beryl Jardine, they established the Gorbals Group. This was a radical experiment in social gospel ministry within the Church of Scotland outside conventional parish structures. The three ministers lived in the Gorbals area of Glasgow - then regarded as one of the worst urban slum areas in Europe. Shaw lived in a flat in Cleland Street, where he sought to help some of the most marginalised people in the community. When the flat in Cleland Street was demolished in 1975 he moved to Queen Mary Avenue in Crosshill.

His radical ministry led him into socialist politics. He joined the Labour Party and was elected Councillor for Govanhill in 1970 (on the former Glasgow Corporation, where he later became leader of the administration). Local government reorganisation in 1975 saw him become Convener of Strathclyde Regional Council.

The Scotland Act 1978 was enacted by the British Parliament with the intention of creating a devolved Scottish Assembly and Scottish Executive. Geoff Shaw was widely tipped to become "First Secretary" in the proposed Scottish Executive. Overwork and smoking led to a heart attack; although he recovered initially, he suffered a relapse and died on 28 April 1978 at the age of 51. He was survived by his wife Sarah, whom he had married only a few years earlier.

The provisions of the Scotland Act 1978 never came into force. The Scotland Act 1998 eventually created a new Scottish Parliament which first sat in 1999.

A community centre in the Toryglen area of south Glasgow is named after him.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Geoff Shaw Community Centre". Glasgow Life. Retrieved 8 August 2018.