Professor Eric W Ives OBE
There is arguably no more important figure in the life of Castle Hill Baptist Church, Warwick, in the last 40 years than Eric Ives, who died on 25th September 2012.
Eric joined the church in June 1969 and, since then, served it tirelessly as a deacon, preacher and visionary. His greatest achievement is probably seen in the present church buildings. In 1970 he and his late wife Ruth saw an opportunity when the Castle Arms public house next to the church was put up for sale.
The church acquired it and it became the church's outreach café first as Meeting Point and more recently as Gateway. Eric also had a vision for a new church building which finally opened in 1999. It was Eric's tenacity and drive as chair of the building committee which played a major part in fulfilling the project.
Eric was one of the UK's leading historians and an expert on Anne Boleyn. As Professor of Modern History at Birmingham University he also became head of the faculty and pro-vice chancellor of the University.
In his final book, The Reformation Experience, published because Eric wanted, as he put it, to write something for the Kingdom of God, he describes himself "as a protestant with a background in English evangelical nonconformity".
Eric brought his academic expertise to Spurgeon's College where he served first on the Advisory Panel and then from 1988 on the Academic Board.
Another institution to benefit from Eric's expertise was Warwick School (the location of Leading Edge for a number of years) where he served as a governor for 25 years, 18 of which he was chair.
But Eric was no single denomination man. In his home town, he was the driving force behind the ecumenical Churches Together in Warwick (CTW), a cause that was as dear to Eric as it was to his late wife, Ruth. Indeed he has been called Mr CTW.
As a preacher, Eric had the rare gift of making the complex accessible to all. As a friend, he was loyal, caring and generous. As a Christian, he believed with all his heart that, in essence, the follower of Christ had to live out what he believed.
Castle Hill Baptist Church is grateful to God for allowing this godly man to serve Him here.
Written by Chris McNee and John Levick of Castle Hill Baptist Church, Warwick