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DeCourcy H. Rayner: pastor and journalist.

DeCourcy H. Rayner, a former Moderator of General Assembly and editor of the Presbyterian Record for 19 years, died December 21 in Toronto. He was 91.

Born in a city that shared his middle name, "Hamilton" (Ontario), on November 14, 1909, DeCourcy Rayner received his primary and secondary education in Kingston, Watford and Dutton, Ontario. He studied arts at the University of Toronto and graduated from Knox College in 1937. In 1966, Knox College recognized him with an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree.

DeCourcy Rayner came by his love of journalism naturally. His father, Rev. Thomas DeCourcy Rayner, was a local correspondent for two London, Ontario, newspapers, as well as for the Toronto Globe. While attending the University of Toronto, the young Rayner worked as an editor on the university newspaper, The Varsity, which was a daily publication at the time. He later recalled that he was one of the few editors not fired. "My successor, who later had a distinguished career as a professor of systematic theology, lasted only two months!"

Following his graduation, DeCourcy was ordained in his father's church, St. Andrew's in Lachine, Quebec. He then travelled by ship to (what is now known as) Guyana with his wife, Marion (Marie) White, a registered nurse with secretarial training whom he married in 1933.

Their four years in Guyana were extraordinarily busy. DeCourcy managed some of the 32 primary schools and two high schools administered by the church and was secretary-treasurer of the mission council and field missionary. On his first Christmas Day as field missionary, every congregation on the Essequibo coast wanted him for a special worship service. When he arrived in the early morning darkness for the first of seven services he was to conduct, he was startled by two bright flashes and two loud shots. He was told: "That was in honour of you ... when the Governor comes, they fire 21 guns, but we could only manage two."

When the Rayners returned to Canada in May 1941, DeCourcy became minister of Outremont Church in Montreal. He was soon claimed by the RCAF and was commissioned as a chaplain in 1943, serving in Canada and England. For 12 years after the war, he was chaplain of 401 City of Westmount Squadron, RCAF Reserve, and received the Canadian Forces Decoration and the Coronation Medal of Queen Elizabeth II while a reserve padre.

Before being appointed editor of the Presbyterian Record in 1958, DeCourcy served for 12 years as a district secretary of the Canadian Bible Society in Montreal. He was Canadian delegate to the first World Assembly of the United Bible Societies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1972 -- the year of the first Russia-Canada hockey series. Always a journalist, he and another minister, after obtaining the score from the Canadian ambassador, made sure the news of Paul Henderson's goal was included in the Bible Society's assembly newsletter.

While editor, he served on numerous local and national boards and committees of the Presbyterian Church. He was also a president of the Associated Church Press and the Canadian Church Press organizations.

In 1977, DeCourcy Rayner's years of distinguished service were acknowledged by the national church when he was elected Moderator of the 103rd General Assembly. After retiring as editor of the Presbyterian Record at the end of 1977, Rayner served as an assistant minister at St. Andrew's Church and at Armour Heights Church, Toronto.

An ardent curler, he helped found the East Metro Ministerial Curling Club, often disappearing from the office on Mondays and reappearing at the rink. It is a tradition still followed by many ministers today.

His friend and colleague, Rev. Ken McMillan (the "other" minister in Addis Ababa), summed up DeCourcy's long life with succinctness and precision when he said it would "not be measured by its duration, but by its donation. DeCourcy made a very significant donation in every type of ministry to which he was called."

Predeceased by his beloved Marie, DeCourcy Hamilton Rayner is survived by his daughters, Sally Schiller of Munich, Germany, Sue (and Deke) McBrien of North York, Ontario, and Diana (and Michael) Tordjman of North York; his sister, Ruth Cowie; and three grandchildren.
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Title Annotation:rest in peace
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 1, 2001
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