The Revd Richard H Walker: 1936-2018
People in many places have reason to give thanks for Richard’s faithful witness and pastoral ministry
Richard was born on Boxing Day 1936 in the County Durham mining community in Horden. Growing up he was actively involved in the local Anglican church as choirboy, Officer in Church Lads’ Brigade as well as the drama and youth groups and for a while he contemplated Anglican ministry.
A scholarship enabled him to go to the grammar school before joining the mining industry as an apprentice mining surveyor in 1953, becoming a qualified mining surveyor in 1960. Sensing that Anglican ministry was not the way forward he was aware of the Lord’s call to other spheres and at a friend’s prompting secured a place at Nottingham Teacher Training College where pursuit of his love of mathematics saw him qualify with honours in that subject.
Whilst at Nottingham, Richard met Nina and they married in 1963. As a teacher he worked in secondary and primary schools developing an interest and extra qualification in working with children with special needs. During this period, he and Nina came into what he described as “a vibrant relationship with Jesus” and in 1974 they were baptised at Newthorpe Baptist Church where he then served as a deacon. In 1981 health issues brought his teaching career to a premature end. The next few years saw him and Nina spending time touring together but sadly Nina was then diagnosed with cancer and died in 1985.
In the depth of despair Richard sensed the Lord’s renewed calling to ministry and he became a church-based student at Bagthorpe Baptist Church whilst studying with Northern Baptist College. Towards the end of his time at Bagthorpe he organised a trip from the church and community to the Oberammergau Passion Play. At a very late stage, it was discovered that the performance tickets were forgeries and 20 of the party withdrew resulting in a half empty coach. A solution was found by allocating two smaller parties to his coach: one, from Lincoln, was led by an unknown lady, whom he married in August 1991!
Richard and Maureen served the churches in Colne(Lancashire) and Heaton (Bradford) with enriching ministries but in the mid 1990s fresh health issues emerged and by 1999 the longstanding lung condition required removal of a lung: whilst the operation was successful he was left considerably weakened. Resisting the opportunity of early retirement, encouraged by the fellowship and supported unstintingly by Maureen, they served until his anticipated retirement date in 2001.
The availability of a property owned by the Retired Baptist Ministers’ Housing Society brought them to Waterlooville. Membership of the local Baptist church gave opportunities for both of them to become involved with Richard’s preaching and other pastoral skills particularly appreciated during the pastoral vacancy which arose soon after his arrival. In the early years, he and Maureen had opportunity to travel but increasing deterioration in health curtailed these and stopped him from driving. Sadly in 2008 Richard had to fully retire from public ministry .
The last few years have seen a series of health crises: each took their toll of strength and mobility. Through them all he spoke with deep gratitude of Maureen’s selfless loving devotion and care throughout. As he and Maureen wished, supported by nursing teams and carers, he was able to remain at home, where on 17 April he passed peacefully into the presence of the Saviour he had professed and faithfully preached throughout his ministry.
Richard’s testimony, from the human understanding, has many reasons for disillusionment, yet as he so often remarked God has other better plans and would quote “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Prov 3:5
People in many places have reason to give thanks for Richard’s faithful witness and pastoral ministry and although sad at his passing, rejoice that now free from the increasing impediments of recent years he is “At home with Christ, the Lord of love and life”.
A thanksgiving service is being arranged for May in Waterlooville details from Maureen on email@example.com
The Revd Elgan V Evans