The Revd Ruth Ann Davis: 1943-2021
A Deaconess who also trained and worked as a social worker, Ann was a dedicated follower of Jesus and the church
A service to celebrate Ann’s life was held at Upper Stratton Baptist Church, Swindon (USBC) on Wednesday 7 April 2021. USBC had been very significant in Ann’s life; she was brought to the church by a neighbour when she was three years old, and it was here at the age of 13 that Ann describes a pivotal moment in her life.
‘My turning point was Sunday 7th April 1957 - a young people’s Sunday at USBC when John Gilmore was the speaker. After the evening service some of the young people gathered in the back hall (the new “Sunday School” only opened in September 1955) - it was there I made a very specific commitment to Christ.’
She goes on to quote the following verses:
John 1: 12-13 Yet to all who receive Him, to those who believed in His name he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent nor human decision or a husband’s will, but of God.
‘These verses were precious to me (and I was given a booklet to help me understand more – unfortunately long ago mislaid). From that moment on, Jesus was my Saviour and friend. Someone very special in my life. I wanted to know more and remember reading through St John’s Gospel. The following Sunday was a baptismal service I knew I too wanted to be baptised - but said nothing until Revd Maycock approached me. (He had been sat next to me when I made my commitment).’
Later that same year, on the 27 October 1957 Ann was baptised.
Ann left school at eighteen and the following year in 1962, Ann felt God calling her to full time Christian service. This was something Ann had been aware of while at school.
As Ann pursued this, she was made aware of the Baptist Ministry of Deaconesses and this felt right for her. Being under 21 years old, Ann needed to gain further experience and to gain the necessary work experience she moved to London.
Following the church’s, the local Association’s and the Deaconess’s Committee approval, Ann successfully completed her work experience, followed by three years of training at Carey Hill in Selly Oak in Birmingham.
Ann was ordained at Upper Stratton Baptist Church on 10 August 1968. This was a very moving service. The key verses in the sermon were from 2 Corinthians 5:19-21 and v 19 in particular “And he has committed us to the ministry of reconciliation”. A profound passage of scripture. The service was led by the Revd G Boocock and the Revd Margaret Jarman who had recently been ordained herself.
Ann had been called to work at Moulescomb Baptist Church which was on a council estate in Brighton where she had a special responsibility for community work. This continued for 16 months and she later returned to work as a Supplementary Minister. Following on from this time in Moulescomb, Ann went to work at the West Ham Central Mission in a County Rehabilitation Centre. It was here that Ann met the Revds Stanley Turl and Ron Messenger who helped to shape Ann’s future and were great encouragers.
This was to be instrumental in Ann later training in social work and in reality Ann developed bi-vocational ministry, the church and social work.
Initially, Ann worked in Tower Hamlets as an unqualified social worker but went on to gain her social work qualifications. That’s some place to start!
Ann returned to Hove to work as a social worker, also serving at Moulsecomb Baptist Church. Ann then moved to Bristol working for the National Children’s Home, where with others she set up a Family Centre and served as a Supplementary Ministry at Horfield and Southmead in Bristol.
Ann then moved to Surrey in 1981. During this time, Ann attended Godalming Baptist Church where she received prayer to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. She described this as “a very special blessing”. Ann also made connections with the Baptist Healing Group.
Following her father sustaining an injury, Ann returned to Upper Stratton to be near him and reconnected with USBC from that time until her death. Ann continued to work for a further 12 years as a social worker, for eight years being based at St Margaret’s Hospital and for her last three years, Ann worked in the community.
Ann completed two counselling courses and in 1995 was elected as an Elder, a role that Ann fulfilled for many years. In 1998, recognising Ann’s ministry which had been both in the church and in the wider world, Ann became a Pastoral Assistant at USBC, working closely with myself, the Revd Howard Heyburn and other members of our Ministry Team.
During this time and since then, Ann has served in various roles. She was a member of the Pastoral Care Team and for a number of years Pastoral Care Team Leader She also became the leader of the Ladies Meeting. Ann was a member of our preaching team and also conducted funerals and weddings.
Ann was keen to serve wherever she was able; greeting people on the door as they came into church, unlocking the church, counting the offering, sharing in leadership within USBC and in more recent times as a Ministerial Assistant to the Revd Simon Govier.
Ann was a dedicated follower of Jesus and the church, maintaining her friendships, some for over 60 years. Ann was loyal, incredibly generous, loving and someone with a real heart for God.
Comments I have heard or read include “such a faithful servant”, “a lovely lady with a passion for Jesus”, “an amazing woman with a huge servant heart” and “such a lovely and devoted woman of God.”
Cathy Butcher, a church member and friend cared for Ann over the past few difficult and painful months. Cathy writes:
'During recent months, when Ann was so ill, we have shared many precious moments. Ann was still so focused on caring for others and always wanted her church directory and phone close to hand so she could ring people and find out about what was going on in their lives. Even when she was then too ill to make phone calls, she would keep her directory with her to pray for people every day.
'I have learnt from Ann what it means to live a life devoted to God. It has been a privilege to be her friend. I miss her.'
Martyn Cook also a church member and a close friend, described Ann as a “a very loyal and faithful servant and a much-loved friend."
It was also my privilege to know Ann and to share in her joys and her struggles, recognising her goodness and passion and love of God. At some of our elders’ meetings which could last for some time, at the end there would often be banter and Ann would chuckle away. What is clear is that not only was USBC her church but also her family and I thank God for being part of that.
So, Ann in heaven, you are with Jesus himself and it doesn’t get better than that!
The Revd David Blandford, former Minister, Upper Stratton Baptist Church