The Revd Donald Bridge: 1931-2016
Evangelist, pastor, and author; a private man who felt led into the public arena by a sense of ‘calling’
Donald Bridge (Don to most people) was born in 1931, in Stockton, County Durham. His parents were members of Hebron Hall, the local Brethren church. Don’s father, Eddy Bridge, an engineer, was a renowned Bible teacher. Don turned personally to Christ in 1945, and soon became aware of a call to evangelism and preaching.
Don married Rita Rymer in 1954 in the church where both were youth leaders – Hebron Hall. A year later he felt called to full-time evangelism with the Open Air Mission, preaching in excess of 500 times per year.
Seven years later he was invited to pastor Eldon Evangelical Church, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, after conducting a very tough mission there. For three years he led this work through significant growth and into a compulsory sum-clearance move, while studying externally for the Baptist Ministry. Meanwhile, Rita was fully occupied with two small boys, Stephen and Paul, both with challenging health problems.
Don was ordained to the Baptist Ministry on St George’s Day in 1965, and became minister of Enon Baptist Church, Sunderland. Here, for six years, he and Rita enjoyed a joint ministry of great encouragement, leading the church through a time of charismatic renewal, church-planting, and a fruitful student work.
The call to ministry at Frinton Free Church came in 1972, reaching out to the many new residents, and planting Homelands Free Church, two miles away. At this time a writing ministry began, with five books jointly authored with the Revd David Phypers.
In 1984, Don was receiving many invitations to preach nationally and abroad, and this led him into an entirely new pattern of ministry. Chaplaincy of the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem was the first step, followed by American and Middle Eastern tours and an itinerant ministry in the UK, involving repeated annual visits to Ayr, Troon, Durham, Doncaster and Stafford. During this time, Don also worked as ‘Minister at Large’ for TES (The Evangelisation Society); and authored a further nine books, the final one being Jesus, the Man and His Message.
The central thrust of Don’s preaching was systematic, expository and Biblical preaching; focused always on Christ crucified, risen and coming again.
Don frequently quoted a verse from one of Charles Wesley’s well known hymns:
His only righteousness I show,
His saving grace proclaim;
‘Tis all my business here below
To cry, “Behold the Lamb!”
In many ways Don was a private man; yet a man who felt led into the public arena by a sense of ‘calling’. He was motivated and directed by the knowledge that he had a ‘charge to keep’, a ‘great commission’ to fulfil. He knew that God, Whom he came to know and love as a teenager, had commissioned him to go and tell the good news of God’s intervention on our behalf. And so this quiet man became a bold and determined witness to the love of God revealed in Christ Jesus. To God be the Glory!
After a long battle with cancer, Don died peacefully at home on 3 October 2016. A Service of Thanksgiving took place at Frinton Free Church on 26 October.
The Bridge family