Raymond Frederick Rose: 1936-2013
Ray was born on 30 June 1936 in New Bradwell. He grew up during the years of the Second World War, and when he left school began work as an apprentice in the printing trade. In his teens he joined the Methodist Youth Club and thoroughly enjoyed himself there.
His plans for the future were interrupted for two years when, in 1958, he was called up for National Service.
He returned to New Bradwell in 1960 and to the Methodist Church where he went through a membership class and joined the church on 6 November that year. He decided it was time to move on from the firm where he had served his apprenticeship and gained a position with Oxford University Press.
This entailed moving to Oxford and although remaining a Methodist, he also joined the South Oxford Baptist Church Men’s Forum, and attended evening classes at Regent’s Park College.
He had done a little lay preaching and now felt that maybe God was leading him toward some kind of future ministry. To this end he decided to give up work and in 1962 he began his studies at Cliff College. He had been dedicated as a baby under the flag of the Salvation Army, but to become a Fully Accredited Methodist Lay Preacher Ray needed to have been baptised and this was arranged and took place during the College Morning Service on 17 March 1963.
On 31 August that year he became the Lay Pastor of Welsh Row in Nantwich, Bunbury and Spurstow Methodist Churches in Cheshire. He lodged with two maiden sisters, who were absolutely horrified to learn sometime later that he had actually encouraged some of the young people to listen to pop music on a portable gramophone in the church! It became expedient to change lodgings.
He was beginning to explore a possible call to full time ordained Methodist ministry but he failed to impress the Selection Committee and felt a desperate sense of failure. However on 24 February 1964 he conducted the evening service at Barony Chapel in Nantwich and met a Miss Cynthia Owen and they arranged to go and see a Christian Aid film together. Ray recalls that the projector failed to work so they had plenty of time to talk, and after that they began to see each other regularly.
However, Ray now needed employment and he started work with the YMCA in Nottingham. He and Cynthia were married on 4 September 1965. They began looking for a church and becoming convinced that that they were really Baptists by conviction, ended up joining Mansfield Road Baptist Church under the ministry of Revd Bernard Green. While there they provided accommodation for a student minister working at the church for a few months, who was studying at Bristol Baptist College – me! In conversation it was clear that the call to ministry still burned brightly in Ray, and at my suggestion, and with Bernard’s whole hearted encouragement, Ray applied to Bristol and was accepted for training.
At the end of his time at Bristol Ray received a call to Wincanton Baptist Church where he was ordained and inducted in July 1971. He served there until 1974. It was in 1971 that their first son, David, was born, to be followed two years later by Jonathan.
From Wincanton he moved to Harlow Baptist Church in 1974 and remained there for five years. He recalls how during a long summer drought, and with a number of folk wanting to be baptised, they decided that rather than waste water they would use the local swimming pool and 200 people turned up. Sadly the drought ended late on the Saturday night, and the congregation got soaked getting to the pool!
In 1979 Ray moved to Maldon. Although he stayed for four years this was not an altogether happy time. He went on a less than unanimous call and soon began to struggle with an anti-ecumenical faction in the church. This led to a breakdown in Ray’s health and he recalled later that, while undergoing hospital tests for chest pains, one of the ‘saints’ said to him “I hope you won’t be with us too long!”
Everything changed when in 1983 he was called to Upper Studley Baptist Church and this was to be his longest and happiest pastorate. Sadly, in April 1989 he suffered a heart attack. He did managed to get back to full time work after 6 months, but in 1993 his doctor suggested ‘a long rest’ and clearly meant early retirement.
He had to have a heart operation in December 1998 and then a triple by pass in January 2000.
In spite of this Ray continued in retirement to serve churches of varying denominations for the next 13 years, while also continuing to dig his allotment!
Ray had endeared himself to so many through his life and ministry. His rugged faith and simple trust had enabled him to overcome a number of blows in his life but wherever he went the love of Jesus shone through him.
He died and went to be with his Lord on 14 July 2013, and he would have been totally amazed that for his Thanksgiving Service the large church building was absolutely packed!
The Revd Martin E Smith 13 February 2014