Friday, 3 January 2020
The one and only time I met my sponsoring Bishop - and his guest.
I wrote yesterday about my sponsoring Bishop, Oliver Tompkins. Although I went to theological college with his approval we had never met .... until ...
Bishop Tompkins, with other Christian Church leaders in Bristol sponsored what was called the South West Ecumenical Conference (SWEC) in 1973.
As one of his Ordinands I was pressed into service, and had no choice in the matter.
I owned a car, so was press ganged to be a Chauffeur for the visiting dignitaries.
I arrived at the Bishop's House in Clifton, Bristol for my first gig.
The Bishop himself opened the front door of his home.
Then he summoned my passenger from inside the house. Bishop Tompkins said to the passenger " I want you meet one of my ordinands" . This tickled me pink 'cause the good Bishop had never before met me and did not know my name.!
Then came my brush with ecclesiastical fame. My passenger was none other than the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches from 1948 -1966, the famous (or infamous for conservative evangelicals ) Dr. Willem Visser 't Hooft.
Visser 't Hooft was one of the great heroes of the post WWII movement for Christian Unity; and I met him!
I have no memory of our conversation as we drove from Clifton, Bristol to the site of SWEC seminars in Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.
But of course I will always remember that I chauffeured one of the ecclesiastical greats.
Not one, but two for at the end of the day I ferried another "great" to Bristol's Temple Meads Railway Station.
I'll tell you about that tomorrow.