THE RT REVD Denis Bryant, who died on 9 August, aged 87, served in the Royal
Air Force during the Second World War. He was a bomber pilot, and was
awarded the DFC. He remained in the RAF for some time after the war, and it was
while flying a plane that he literally saw a light, and was converted.
His new faith was shared by his wife, Linda, and his daughter; and it was
not long before Denis wanted to serve his Lord in the ordained ministry. After
a course at Queen's College, Birmingham, he was ordained to a curacy in the
diocese of Guildford. During his second curacy, he felt drawn to an
he saw in the church press, in which the Bishop of Kalgoorlie asked to meet
priests who wanted to do pioneering work in his diocese. Denis, though far from
young in years, was young in the faith, and anxious to use his leadership
skills in pioneering work.
Consequently, he accepted the position of Rector of Esperance, a small town
on the coast of Western Australia. His parish extended 200 miles west to east,
and 65 miles to the north. It was a tough challenge for anyone.
The Esperance years were exciting for him. At first, he and Linda endured
primitive conditions in a corrugated-iron rectory and church, both of which he
managed to replace. The work was demanding, but he thrived on it.
He wrote: "Wherever we found any signs of a community, we established a bush
church, and then visited it regularly every month. In this way we started six
thriving bush churches. The people here are truly pioneers, and they are
tremendously responsive - one almost feels, on occasions, that you are back in
the first church. All very thrilling."
In 1967, he was consecrated Bishop of Kalgoorlie. It was a vast diocese, by
English standards, but sparsely populated, and had very few viable parishes. He
quickly realised that, since the goldfields were closing down, its future as a
separate diocese was questionable. After five years in post, he did what few
bishops would dare to do and asked the Archbishop of Perth to take it back into
the mother diocese. In doing so, he made himself redundant.
For a short time, he was Rector of Northam, and then for the last ten years
of his ministry served as Rector of Dalkeith, an attractive suburb of Perth, on
the Swan River. Here he built up a vibrant congregation, and established the
church as a centre for the ministry of healing.
In his retirement, he lived in, and served as chaplain to, one of the
Anglican homes in Perth; and during those years faced the sorrows, first of his
daughter's death, and then of his wife's.
In many ways, his was an unconventional ministry. What he lacked in formal
qualifications was more than compensated for by his enthusiasm. The freshness
of his faith remained throughout his ministry. Several of his Dalkeith
parishioners had known him during the Kalgoorlie years, and they and many
others were loyal friends during his decline. For them, he remained a very