In 1945 the Church of Scotland in Gilcomston was largely a social church, with plenty of organizations and clubs, but with little spiritual life. Indeed, presbytery twice tried to close the church. When he took charge Mr William Still said that he would not be their minister unless there was a weekly meeting for prayer and he was told that ‘You can have your prayer meeting.’ God has had his prayer meeting in Gilcomston every week since then. During the early years of his ministry the organizations went, one by one, until it could be truly said of Gilcomston, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer.’
Often ministers preach on their favourite passages, avoiding other more difficult parts of the Bible, thus presenting a lopsided version of Scripture. Early in his ministry Mr Still started systematic preaching where he would choose a book of the Bible and preach through it from beginning to end over the course of several weeks. Some books, such as Romans, featured more often than others but the whole Word of God was preached.
A major problem in our churches is that children fail to make the transition from Sunday school to Sunday services. Mr Still’s view was that children should make this transition as soon as they could sit quietly in church with their parents and certainly before they are old enough to impose their will on their parents and reject the transition to Sunday services. The Gilcomston Sunday School only runs for children up to the age of eight and the majority of children make their way through from infants to adult members without falling away.
Mr Still’s ministry stretched far wider than the congregation. In the early 1970s he was instrumental in founding the Crieff Fellowship of evangelical ministers which currently has nearly 500 ministers of various denominations who meet three times a year for fellowship, mutual support and Bible study. In 1982 he was also prominent in the founding of Rutherford House, the evangelical study centre in Edinburgh.
While a fearless expositor of God’s Word, he was a kindly, compassionate and self-effacing man who was much loved by those who knew him. When he died on Wednesday 30 July 1997, Scotland lost one of the most powerful and influential preachers that God has raised up this century. Indeed, many who sat at his feet consider that history may judge him to be the most significant Scottish minister of this century.