The Revd James (Jim) Renton Cargill: 1920-2020
The death of the Revd James (Jim) Renton Cargill at the age of 99 robs the north east of England of a Baptist minister who held three noteworthy ministries in the “old” North Eastern Area, was a key figure in Association and Area life, and a great encourager of young people and of those at the beginning of their ministries.
Jim and his twin brother Jack (James and John) were born on 26th November 1920 in Hartlepool. He had two older sisters, Margery and Jean. His parents were Meg and Jim.
The family moved to Thornaby-on-Tees during Jim’s early childhood and attended Thornaby Baptist Church, where Jim’s dad was the organist. It was here that Jim was baptised at the age of 16 and it was also here where he met Margaret, who was to become his wife.
Jim’s childhood was happy and he and Jack were doted on by their two older sisters.
When Jim left grammar school, he worked for a short time at Binns in Middlesbrough, in the soft furnishings department. Two of his senior colleagues were Mr Barker and Mr Stonehouse, who went on to become household names in the furniture business. Binns also sold pianos at that time, and Jim, being a gifted and natural pianist (only one lesson) was often called upon to go to the piano department and demonstrate an instrument for a customer.
When World War 2 broke out, Jim enlisted with the Green Howards and saw active service then spent the war years working as a secretary in many locations, including the Middle East. It was while he was in Egypt, waiting to be repatriated, that he felt called to be a Baptist Minister and on returning to England, he went to Rawdon College, near Leeds, for his ministerial formation.
In 1950, Jim married Margaret at Thornaby Baptist Church in Teesside.
Jim had three ministries during his vocation, the first being at West Vale, near Halifax. It was here that Ann and Janet were born. Jim and Margaret lived in an old West Yorkshire manse with a cellar and, before the days of fridges, kept perishables on the cellar steps. Jim and Margaret frequently told the memorable tale of entertaining an eminent preacher for Sunday lunch and Jim accidentally stepping on the trifle which was on the cellar steps. They had no option but to smooth the top over and pretend nothing had happened.
The family moved to South Shields in 1955. Jim was the minister at Westoe Road Baptist Church and was well liked. Up to his death, Jim maintained links with Westoe Road and received updates on what was going on there from one of his friends, aged 100. Whilst at Westoe Road, Jim wrote a weekly column for the local paper, 300 words of succinct wit and wisdom. His sister Margery kept all his press cuttings in a scrapbook and these have been greatly enjoyed by family members in recent years. Jim also featured on Tyne Tees television occasionally, doing “The Epilogue” late at night.
In 1962, Jim and Margaret and Ann and Janet moved to Middlesbrough and to Middlesbrough Baptist Church, Cambridge Road, for what turned out to be a very significant ministry. At this time Jim’s parents lived in Redcar and Margaret’s mother in Thornaby so it was good to be closer to them. Stephen, Richard and Andrew were all born in Middlesbrough, necessitating the church buying a bigger manse, which remains the Middlesbrough Manse.
Jim stayed at Middlesbrough Baptist Church, Cambridge Road until he retired in 1985. Jim was a much loved and respected minister. His unique mix of wisdom, warmth, dry humour and practical advice was well received. He knew all of the congregation well. During his time in Middlesbrough Jim acted as “senior friend” to several younger ministers in the area, many of whom have sent warm tributes on hearing of his demise. He played a significant role beyond Middlesbrough Baptist Church in the, then, Cleveland District of the Yorkshire Baptist Association. For churches of the Cleveland District, through periods of uncertainty and change, Jim was always there as a trusted advisor and encourager and a valued friend to many of the people. He, likewise, was highly valued within the YBA and served on several committees of the Association, including being President of the YBA in 1980. Jim was faithful in his commitment to this wider work and never seemed to tire of making the journey down the A19 from Middlesbrough to the Association offices in Leeds. At that time the Association ran a successful young people’s summer camp at different venues including Redcar, Bridlington and Scarborough. Jim encouraged the young people in Middlesbrough to attend these camps and for many it was a life-enhancing experience and at least one of his young people felt a call to Christian ministry through the camp.
When Jim “retired” he continued to act as a visiting preacher at several churches in the area and took funerals until he was well into his 80s.
Jim and Margaret were married for 66 years and it was a great sadness when Margaret died in 2016. Jim was also very sad to lose Ann, just in February of this year.
Jim was a frequent letter writer and kept in touch with many family members by post. One of his joys, when he became frailer and needed 24 hour care at The Gables, was receiving post from his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He also enjoyed receiving many visitors at The Gables.
Jim had eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren. He delighted in large family gatherings, the latest of which was a lunch for his 99th birthday.
Jim had a long, happy and fulfilling life, and was well loved by family, friends, members of churches to which he ministered and the wider Baptist community in the north east of England.
Janet Lancefield (née Cargill) and Keith G Jones