Rev Dr David Paton MA, DD (1841 – 1907) from Scotland had a 30 year ministry at Chalmers Church (1877-1907). Dr. Paton, in response to an invitation to the pastorate of Chalmers Church reached South Australia on September 29, 1877, and about l8 months after his arrival he was appointed to succeed the Rev. P. Maclaren as professor of Hebrew, Old Testament history, and theology in Union College, afterwards adding the subjects of Biblical criticism and the humanities. Since 1886 he had been a member of the University Council, and at different times had acted as co-examiner with Professors Boulger and Mitchell, and the late Rev. W. Roby Fletcher, in mental and moral philosophy. He was Moderator of the General Assembly of South Australia in 1888 and of the Federal Assembly in Melbourne in 1896. He was a member of the Board of Governors of the Public Library, and also, of the committees of several philanthropic institutions in the State. Dr. Paton was eulogised as one of the most eloquent speakers in the Christian ministry, a delightful conversationalist and companion, with a most equable temperament, one of nature's gentlemen. Chalmers Church, it was said, had lost a faithful pastor, and the cause of education was robbed of a powerful advocate by his death.
He was a popular and esteemed minister. He was a good preacher and a diligent pastor. His wife gave great support within the church and helped found the Presbyterian Women's Missionary Union in South Australia. Paton became ill in October 1906 and he died early in 1907 “and so closed a life which had been full of usefulness and piety”[i]. Dr. Paton was in many respects a typical Scotch minister. He possessed a particularly genial disposition, and he had the happy faculty for making friends and for binding them to him by life-long ties. He was a man of wide sympathies, as well as of great culture. While he loved his own church with a fervent affection, he was quick to see and ready to acknowledge the good work done by other communions, and was always ready to hold out the brotherly hand to those who were working in the cause of Christianity and humanity.
He was an earnest, unassuming man, but his influence was widely felt. Dr. Paton had lived for years at the manse on North Terrace, where he was always accessible to those who sought his help or advice, and it was there that he died.[ii]
[i] The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931) Friday 5 February 1907
[ii] The Advertiser, 15 February 1907
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