Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
THOSE who benefited from David Bonser’s
(Gazette, 22 April) second curacy at St George’s, Sheffield, have
particular reason to mourn his passing. He came from Heckmondwike during Jack
Churchill’s time as Vicar, and was no more than a few months into his curacy
when Jack was called to a canonry at St Edmundsbury.
It was a difficult time. The Provost of Sheffield was patron of the living,
and offered a candidate whose churchmanship and principles contrasted with
those of the congregation. St George’s at that time had a lively congregation,
the more so because it also acted as the university church, and the chaplaincy
was occupied by a chaplain whose views were firmly in touch with a modern,
ecumenical and forward-looking student church, focusing on peace,
reconciliation, and the defeat of world poverty.
David Bonser was the ideal priest to accompany this, and he had an added
advantage of being older than the average curate.
He steered the church through its interregnum, with an undiminished
congregation, preparing the way for its eventual new incumbent, Henry Richmond
(later Bishop of Repton). He threw himself avidly into the initiatives that
made St George’s a seminal influence in thinking about issues of world
When he was consecrated Bishop in York Minster in 1991, many previous
members of the congregation at St George’s attended, even though by that time
the church had been long closed for worship.