In 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul instructed his young protegee with some important departing counsel: “The things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2).” As one who has been the beneficiary of so many faithful teachers and mentors, I have come to appreciate how significant such mentoring is to the development of a minister of the Gospel. We’ve all heard the saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” It would be equally fair to say, “Behind every great minister is a great minister.” William Still was one such man. It has been suggested that no one influenced more ministers in Scotland during the 20th Century than the Willie Still; Eric Alexander is another such minister. I have personally benefited greatly from conversations with Rev. Alexander and from listening to his sermons and lectures. There was, however, someone who influenced both Rev. William Still and Rev. Eric Alexander–the Rev. William Fitch.
William Fitch was the minister of Springburn Hill Parish Church in Glasgow from 1938 until 1955. He then served as the minister of Knox Presbyterian Church in Toronto from 1955-1972. Here is an except about his ministry and arrival to Toronto from Glasgow:
After another long vacancy William Fitch arrived from Scotland in 1955, fresh from the leadership of the committee of the Billy Graham crusade in Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall. In many ways he was a new Robert Burns, so like his fellow Scot from the Glasgow area who had arrived 110 years before. He was a great preacher, whose expositions gave positive evidence of his doctorate in biblical studies. In his evangelistic zeal he sought to reach the students of the University for Christ. He sought to follow the model of British ministers such as John Stott in London, who made a church alongside a university into a student centre, without in any way neglecting the rest of the congregation. He also continued the stress on missions and most of the Knox missionaries whose pictures are on the north wall of the Winchester Room went out under his ministry. In the later years of his ministry Fitch was far from well, and retired in early 1972.
In an interesting moment of reflection, William Still recounted the mindset he had as he went from University to be a one year intern in a small parish church under Fitch at Springburn Hill. Still wrote:
I left Aberdeen to take up an assistantship at Springburnhill Parish Church in Glasgow under the Rev. William Fitch. Climbing tenement stairs in Springburn was different from the glamour of University life and from popularity with masses of Aberdeen’s Kirk and musical folk, and since my faith was not yet very biblically founded, although real enough, I became a little cynical about my calling and doubtless grieved William Fitch by some of the things I said from his pulpit.
Eric Alexander spoke some about the influence that William Fitch had on him as a young man preparing for ministry. You can listen to our interview with Rev. Alexander here (starting at the 25 min. mark).
I recently discovered a few of his sermon audio online. You can listen to them below:
Be Not Conformed to the World (Romans 12:2)
Filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4)
First Miraculous Catch of Fish (Luke 5:1-11, John 21:3-12)
God Uses Pain (Part 1) (2 Corinthians 1:1-10)
God Uses Pain (Part 2) (2 Corinthians 1:1-10)
Love Not the World (1 John 2:15-17)
The Temptation of Christ (Matthew 4: 8-11, 1 John 2:16-17)
The Gifts of the Spirit (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12,14, Ephesians 4)
The Storm on Galilee (Luke 8:22-25)
The Wonderful Works of God (Psalm 11)
The Tragedy of Deflected Aims (1 Kings 13)
You are the Light of the World and the Salt of the Earth (Matt. 5:13-14)
You can find all of the original audio files online here. May God continue to raise up a generation of faithful Gospel ministers who will commit the things they have learned to faithful men who will teach others.