The Revd Dennis Edgar Weller: 1928-2018
'An inspiring example of someone who knew how to combine a clear and firm faith while always remaining open to the mystery of the divine'
Dennis Edgar Weller was born in Bexleyheath, Kent, on 16 January 1928, as one of six siblings and the last survivor of them. He professed Christian faith aged 14, and in 1943 gave his public testimony to that faith to the Midweek Meeting at Donnington Wood Baptist Church in Shropshire. Early in 1944, aged 16, he preached his first sermon. More opportunities followed, including those in neighbouring Baptist and Methodist churches. On 22 October, 1944, Dennis was baptised as a believer by the Revd. H. Mostyn-Jones of Dawley Baptist Church, together with Rhoda Elsie Dean, who on 20 June 1953 became his wife.
During three years of National Service in Egypt, Dennis served as a deacon in the Baptist-Congregational Church, Cairo, and regularly preached in the garrison churches. He trained for the Christian ministry at Manchester Baptist College, holding student pastorates at Earlstown, in Barrow-in-Furness and in Lumb, Rossendale.
Dennis was ordained to the Christian ministry in the Baptist Christian tradition on 7 November, 1953. His pastorates were at Ponciau, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Wrexham between 1953-6, where his and Rhoda’s son, Paul, was born on 19 March 1956. He then served at Golcar Baptist Church in Huddersfield, 1956-61; at Kingsland and Swaythling Baptist churches in Southampton, during 1961-66; at Cecil Square Baptist Church in Margate, 1966-78, during which time he served as General Secretary of the Kent and Sussex Baptist Association. Finally, he was minister at Caversham Baptist Free Church, in Reading from 1978 until his formal retirement in March 1993.
"I remember a man who was always seemed to be smiling and clearly showed God''s love to us"
(correspondent from a former church served by Dennis Weller)
Following retirement, Dennis and Rhoda were in membership with Stafford Baptist Church, with Dennis assisting in preaching and pastoral visitation over the years. Donnington Wood Baptist Church made Dennis its moderator during their pastoral vacancy in 1995-6. Dennis has regularly preached and led worship at Baptist churches in Staffordshire and Shropshire, including especially at Dawley; Madeley; Newport and Donnington Wood. In December 2015, his beloved wife Rhoda died after a long struggle with chronic illness and with Dennis acting as her main carer for many years. Over the years of Paul’s marriage to Greta Preisler-Weller, whose own passing in 2010 was a matter of deep sorrow for Dennis, he became a grandfather three times over, with the births of David, Lisa and Katrina, whose growth from children and development into young people and adults gave him much joy.
Then in September 2016, with the births of twins Lily and Matty to his granddaughter Lisa and Simon Elton, he also had the joy of becoming a great grandfather. The births were premature and, sadly, Matty died all too quickly after his birth, bringing deep sadness to Dennis and to the wider family. But Dennis was very pleased that he had been able to visit both great-grandchildren in hospital in Leicester, while his granddaughter Lily was, in turn, able to visit him when he was last month admitted to the Stafford Hospital. And having, in Greta, lost one “daughter-in-love”, Dennis was overjoyed to have had the grace of another in Marie Adenau, whom Paul married in 2013, and whose weekly visits to him in Stafford, Dennis appreciated so much.
After Rhoda’s death, Dennis decided it would be right to plan to move out of the Baptist Ministers’ Housing Association bungalow in which Dennis and Rhoda had lived during later years in Stafford, and he moved into a room in Abbeyfield House supported housing in Stafford. While there, and taking walks in the nearby area, as well as sharing a pew in church at The Green, Stafford, Dennis and Marjorie Moody began to get to know one another. In their developing relationship, Dennis and Marjorie – who had also been widowed from her dear husband Tony, found a mutual love and commitment that was given expression in their marriage on 7 October 2017. Dennis and Marjorie had just over a year of very happy marriage together. Through that, Dennis also developed a strong bond with Marjorie’s daughter and son, Pamela and Michael, and began to get to know Marjorie’s wider family.
After admission to Stafford hospital the middle of September following a couple of falls, the cancers that had originally developed in Dennis’ kidneys, but had apparently been relatively dormant for many years, were confirmed as having spread to his brain. After transfer to the St. Joseph’s Nursing home where, even as his body weakened, his smile to visitors - and above all for his wife Marjorie when she came faithfully to visit and be with him - continued to bring joy to others both close to him and those in the Nursing Home who professionally and humanly cared for him. At 2.40am, on Monday 22 October, aged 90, he died peacefully taking his last breathe in this world with his son, Paul, at his side.
On Monday 5 November there will be a Service of Committal for family and friends at Stafford Crematorium, led by the Revd Dr. Michael Collis. At 16.00 a Service of Thanksgiving will be led by the Revd Ron Davis at the Green Baptist Church, Stafford. Afterwards the family - his wife Marjorie Moody Weller, son Paul Weller, Marie Adenau, Pamela Curtis, Michael Moody, David Weller, Lisa Weller, Katrina Weller, and Lily Elton - invite participants in either or both services to share with them in light refreshments at the church. Donations will be shared between the staff and residents' funds of St. Joseph's Nursing Home.
On a personal note, I will always remain grateful that my father was someone who lived in the spirit of Jesus of Nazareth as being of firm but gentle conviction in his own life and in his interactions with others. He was also someone who always supported me personally with love in and through the individual, social, religious and political choices I have made in life, even when he disagreed with some of them or found them or their consequences difficult to come to terms with – and most especially when in the 1980s I needed to withdrew from the list of Accredited Ministers of the Baptist Union, which I know remained a matter of great sadness for him, while holding the hope that I might one day return to the Accredited List. But he nevertheless fully supported the scholarly work in which I became involved.
For the development of my own personal faith in integration with my academic work my father, who baptised me at Cecil Square Baptist Church in Margate on 6 December 1970, was for me an inspiring example of someone who knew how to combine a clear and firm faith while always remaining open to the mystery of the divine which goes beyond all our human conceptions and is deeper than all our human feelings. Because of this, he remained ready throughout his life, including into his 90s, to learn and to change when convicted by the Spirit of God of the need to do so. He is now with the Love from which he believed we all come and to which I believe he has now fully gone. May you rest in peace, Dad
Professor Dr. Paul Weller (son of Dennis)
Derby, 28 October 2018