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The Revd Stephen James Harvie MA: 1950-2020 

'Many have cause to give thanks to God for Stephen's quiet pastoral skills, listening, reflecting and encouraging disciples on the road'

Stephen Harvie1Stephen James Harvie was born in Sidcup but spent his early years with his family in Canada. Returning to the UK as a young teenager, the family relocated to the Reading area. An RE teacher at his school took him to a Billy Graham crusade meeting in the 1960s and it was there that he decided to become a Christian.

After school, he went to Art College and qualified as a photographer. He used his skills with the Ministry of Defence and then as a photojournalist with two local newspapers. After a time in social work and volunteering in a drug rehabilitation centre, Steve responded to a call to ministry and was accepted for training at Bristol Baptist College (1975 to 1979).

It was while at college in Bristol that Steve met Elaine who was also studying there and they married in 1979. His first pastorate was at Earl Shilton in Leicestershire (1979 to 2001) where he forged strong ecumenical links in the village. He and Elaine then moved to Blackley near Huddersfield in Yorkshire (2001 to 2015). Steve was well loved as a pastor and careful preparer of worship. The Blackley chapel, on a prominent hillside, is in a quiet rural setting and yet is strategically placed just a few minutes from the M62 motorway. Steve helped to consolidate the Blackley Centre as a place for retreat and gatherings, large and small, widely used by the Northern Baptist Associations as well as by ecumenical and local community groups. During his ministry, the church basement was transformed into a well-equipped resource, the Thompson Jones Hall. Hundreds of us down the years have appreciated Steve’s warm welcome, pouring out coffee as we arrived for our various meetings.

At Steve’s thanksgiving service the Revd Andy Williams, currently co-pastor of Blackley, spoke of Steve’s “humble, gentle and creative spirit”. This was reflected in his love for photography, art and music, culture and learning. Indeed in 2001, he was awarded a Master’s degree in Photography and Spirituality from De Montford University, Leicester. In an impressive way, art, in its various forms, expressed the depths of his Christian faith and he helped many of us to tune into non-verbal ways of worship and reflection. So many of his photographs and artwork are stunning in being mirrors of life and spirituality. He enjoyed nature, working on his allotment and was passionate in caring for the environment, encouraging us all to take seriously creation care.

Alongside all this, many people, in Leicestershire, Yorkshire and beyond have cause to give thanks to God for his quiet pastoral skills, listening, reflecting and encouraging disciples on the road. He and Elaine worked in a close partnership and we hold her in our thoughts and prayers.

W.E. Whalley

13 October 2020 

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