Moray minster Rev Dr Cornelius Breda Ludik, of St Andrew’s Lhanbryd and Urquhart Church, has died aged 68.
The father-of-three from South Africa, known for his warmth, faith and intellect, had been in post for just two-and-a-half years.
‘Home’ to Scotland
Born in south-east South Africa in a farming community, Breda had originally been part of the Dutch Reformed Church but felt a call to Scotland in 2018.
He and his wife Francé, a music teacher, spent a year in Edinburgh in 2019 as part of the Church of Scotland familiarisation programme for ministers coming from other countries and denominations, before settling in Moray.
A welcome “return to the land of his mother’s ancestors”, Breda saw his charge at St Andrew’s Lhanbryd and Urquhart (SALU) as a homecoming.
His first service in the Morayshire parish church just outside Elgin, which has 300 members on the roll, was Christmas Sunday, 2020.
Servant and scholar
The move to Scotland followed four decades of ministry in South Africa. He studied theology at the universities of Stellenbosch and Pretoria and his first ministry appointment was as a chaplain in the South African Air Force during compulsory military service.
Over the next seven years he held posts in several churches before joining the ministry team of the Dutch Reformed Church in Helderberg, Somerset West, on the outskirts of Cape Town. He remained there for more than 32 years.
SALU session clerk, Alastair Rossetter, said: “Throughout his ministry Breda immersed himself in biblical and theological studies.
“He developed the habit of spending a month at a time with a different book of the Bible, reading, re-reading, reflecting and consulting commentaries to capture fully the message of the book. As a result, he acquired a profound biblical knowledge and a wide theological understanding.”
Ministry opportunity in America
In 1995 Breda visited Atlanta, Georgia, on sabbatical and in 1999 undertook doctoral research at Columbia Theological Seminary.
During his time in the States he was offered the opportunity to continue his ministry out there but he felt he owed it to his church and South Africa to continue serving in his homeland as it emerged from Apartheid into a new democratic era.
He never regretted this decision.
Black Isle roots
Approaching retirement age didn’t lessen Breda’s passion for ministry. It was then that a new challenge in Scotland became a distinct possibility.
Partly due to the significant influence Scots Presbyterians had on his own denomination, Breda made enquiries to the Church of Scotland.
His interest in Scottish ministry was also piqued because his great-grandfather, himself a son of the manse, had emigrated to South Africa from Scotland in the 19th century.
“It was a source of immense pleasure to Breda to visit the church at Avoch in the Black Isle. It was there where his great-great-grandfather, Rev David Henderson Philip, had once ministered,” added Alastair.
Early in 2021 Breda was diagnosed with cancer. Despite surgery and the challenges of his illness he chose to remain in Moray.
“He served the congregation well, drawing on the wealth of wisdom and experience garnered over his many years in ministry. In leading worship and preaching he displayed a rare combination of clarity, relevance and depth of scriptural understanding.
“Faced with challenges which none could have foreseen when he first came to SALU he guided the congregation wisely and sensitively,” said Alastair.
Enriched by Breda
A man of many interests, he was well-versed in both church matters and current affairs, nationally and internationally. He took a keen and active interest in sport, especially rugby, golf and fishing. As an avid reader he also relished the discovery of writers such as Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
A congregational tribute to Breda described him as “an open, engaging and truly human individual,” adding that “spending time in his company never failed to be an enriching experience”.
In July this year Breda found out his cancer had returned and was this time it was terminal. Following medical advice, he and Francé returned to South Africa within a week.
After some days enjoying being back with their children and two grandchildren, his condition deteriorated.
He died peacefully on Thursday September 7.
Celebration of his life
His favourite Bible verse from Psalm 19 was read at his funeral. The service was conducted in English and streamed from South Africa, to allow his Scottish congregants to pay their respects.
“The Church of Scotland has been privileged to have had such a humble, gracious and godly man in its service. He leaves an incredible legacy and we will miss his warmth, his faith and dedication to our church,” said Alastair.