02 November 2006

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 advertisement
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 special bishop.

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