Rev D. Murdoch McLaren was Joseph Kemp’s ‘Minister’s Assistant’ from February 1915 to June 1916, assuming more responsibilities in return for a higher salary when Kemp left for New York in September 1915.1 He filled the vacancy created when J.R. Hewison left after the last Sunday of September 1914.2 On 22 January 1915 he applied to the deacons for the vacant post of Pastor’s Assistant. This was deferred until 1 February 1915, for his references to be taken up. He was then appointed on a temporary basis (a trial period) for five months, from February to June 1915 at a salary of £120 per annum, on the understanding that a permanent agreement was likely if the five months were satisfactory.3
He had had missionary service with the Baptist Missionary Society in Congo. He joined the Church ‘By Deputation’ during February 1915; in other words, he was interviewed by the elders, presumably at the time of his application for the post, and not transferred from another Baptist church. No further details are given of his background, but his wife and family were in Cumberland, certainly latterly. When he was appointed on 1 February 1915, it was on the basis ‘that no allowance could be made for expenses of removal if that was intended’ and in February 1916 (a full year later) he asked ‘for a few days’ absence next week to enable him to remove his wife and family and furniture from Cumberland to Edinburgh’.4
On 25 June 1915, the deacons recommended his appointment as Minister’s Assistant at a salary of £140, to commence on 1 July, three Sundays holiday in the year, one month’s notice on either side.5 At the church meeting three days later, during which Mr Kemp intimated he had received a call to New York and that he was considering it, the church, on the recommendation of the office-bearers, appointed Mr McLaren who ‘has already served the Church for five months with much acceptance’. The heartiness with which the Church responded indicated the appreciation of the members.
He was interim Superintendent of the Sunday School while Mr. Lee was in the army, and he filled the pulpit on many Sundays with acceptance, was assiduous in visitation, assisted in the School of Bible Study and the weekly prayer meetings.6 He did excellent work over seventeen months. His farewell from the Chapel, on going to the Vale of Leven Church, was 24 July 1916. He was inducted to the church in Alexandria on the day of the Sunday School Picnic in June 1916.7 His wife died in 1920.8