Gordon James Keddie went to be with the Lord on Friday, May 19th, at the age of 78 after a long struggle with prostate cancer. He was surrounded by his loving wife, Jane, sons and daughters-in-law Donald, Iain (Erin), David (Christina), and grandchildren Joshua, Sophia, Alexa, and one yet unborn.
Gordon was born on December 29th, 1944, in Edinburgh, Scotland and was baptized behind blackout curtains as the Second World War entered its final months. His father had been blessed with a brief leave in the spring to visit his wife between fighting in North Africa and invading Europe but wouldn’t see his son until the war was finished. Gordon spent his childhood sharing a three-room apartment with his parents and brother John. Early jobs included delivering milk and groceries. Following his fifth year of primary school, after a bout where his hair fell out due to frustration from the rote education, he was taken on scholarship by George Heriot’s School.
From an early age Gordon was known for his curiosity. He was a man who found things interesting. His first great interest was the natural world. Be it butterflies, crabs, sea mice, or worms from the North Sea, all of which he collected, Gordon loved God’s creation. It was that love that led him to the University of Aberdeen to study zoology, including a thesis on the aforementioned worms. From Aberdeen he returned to Edinburgh for an education diploma from the University of Edinburgh and then to work as a biology teacher. In his new school he discovered only two microscopes, both broken, and both from before the First World War. He proceeded, to the horror of his colleagues who were content to teach without the burden of lab work, to get the school district to deliver a truckload of new equipment for the students to do hands-on scientific work.
The most important interest in Gordon’s life came to him on May 20th, 1962, at a gospel rally after a soccer tournament (which his team lost) for the Scripture Union at his school. The preacher’s text was Ecclesiastes 12:1: “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” Gordon, in his own words, said that “he saw, with awesome reality, that he was neither right with God nor committed to his Son… he must choose that day whom he would serve!” He confessed Christ as Lord, a commitment that would eventually lead him to leave life as a teacher, and even his home country, to travel to the United States to study to be a pastor at Westminster, and later the Reformed Presbyterian, Theological Seminary.
As a young seminary student, he accepted the offer to guest preach at the Reformed Presbyterian church in Coldenham, New York for the Rev. John McMillan. At the door of the parsonage, he was welcomed by the pastor’s daughter, Jane, with whom he would celebrate forty-nine years married the day before he passed. She was his constant companion through forty years in the gospel ministry in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, Wishaw and Glasgow in Scotland, State College, Pennsylvania, and the Southside of Indianapolis.
Along the way as a pastor, he was encouraged to turn his sermons into Bible commentaries, the first, on Judges and Ruth, appearing in 1985. This would lead to more than twenty published works, with more prepared for posthumous publication as his health declined. These include works on the books of Numbers, 1 and 2 Samuel, Jonah, Amos, Acts, James (titled “The Practical Christian” and dedicated to Jane, the consummate practical Christian), and the gospel of John. A number were translated into Korean, French, Polish, Spanish, and German.
A great interest of every pastor has to be people, and Gordon loved the people under his care. As his health failed, letters poured in from many former congregants going back to his start in Pittsburgh. He said in his last days that it is the impact you make in individual lives, ministering to them and pointing them to Christ, that is of greatest value. In the preface to his reminiscences, he quoted Psalm 16:6: “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance.” He was greatly blessed by the Lord from his youth with the sure and certain hope of the resurrection from the dead when, in the words of one of his favorite verses to preach at funerals, “the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matthew 13:43).”
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary: https://www.rpts.edu/give/
Visitation was held on Thursday, May 25, 2023 from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Southside Reformed Presbyterian Church, 6969 S. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46217. A second visitation was held on Friday, May 26, 2023, 9:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Funeral service began at 10:30 a.m. Burial was held on Saturday, May 27, 2023 at Reformed Presbyterian Church Cemetery in New Galilee, PA. Local arrangements were handled by A.D. Campbell Funeral Home, Inc., 1326 8th Avenue, Beaver Falls, PA 15010.