13 February 2008

Well-known Evangelical layman: Sir Timothy Hoare, who went on to the Church Assembly at the age of 26 and served on numerous committees and commissions

Well-known Evangelical layman: Sir Timothy Hoare, who went on to the Church Assembly at the age of 26 and served on numerous committees and commission...

The Rt Revd Timothy Dudley-Smith writes:

SIR Timothy Hoare, 8th Baronet, who died on 18 January, aged 73, came from a family whose name remains a household word in banking circles. He numbered William Pitt the Elder among his forebears, and William Wilberforce and John Newton among his heroes. He might have found his Christian calling in politics like the former, or in ordination like the latter.

Instead, for more than 40 years, he gave unstintingly of his time and energy to serving the structure of the Church of England (to which, for all its faults, he remained devoted) at local, diocesan, and national levels with perseverance, insight, and dedication, to which his OBE in 1996 gave recognition. In his unassuming way, he wore both honours and title lightly, but few of his generation can match his record of service and achievement in his chosen field.

Timothy Hoare was born in Bangkok, educated at Radley (playing in the First XI under Ted Dexter, with whom he shared a study), and at Worcester College, Oxford. During his first year, he began attending the college Christian Union; and (as with John Wesley) it was through St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans that he came to commit his life decisively to Christ. One of his referees for Worcester wrote of him as “serious-minded” but with social gifts, yet “naturally modest and unassuming”. Those who knew him at any stage of his life would recognise how little his character changed with the years: he would want to add humour — even a dash of mischief — to the “serious-minded”.

After National Service and Oxford, Tim Hoare (he preferred “Tim” among friends) worked with the Pathfinder Christian youth movement, and, while on its staff, was elected to the Church Assembly, aged 26.

In 1963, he joined his friend R. C. (“Dick”) Lucas at St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, serving the burgeoning ministry of that unique City church, where he was churchwarden for more than 30 years. In 1970, a year after his marriage, he and a friend set up a specialist City-based personnel consultancy, Career Plan, and from then on his main energies were divided between this work and his growing range of commitments in the General Synod and its associated bodies.

For 17 years, he was a member of the standing committee (including a spell as chairman of the highly influential appointments sub-committee). He served on the Advisory Council for the Church’s Ministry for 15 years, was for five years a member of the Crown Appointments Commission, and in 1991 was among the C of E delegates to the World Council of Churches’ Assembly in Canberra.

Tim Hoare made his mark early in pre-synodical circles, being appointed to the Chadwick Commission on Church and State (considerably lowering the members’ average age) towards the end of the 1960s, which in turn led to membership of the Van Straubenzee Review Group on Senior Appointments.

Here, according to a well-placed observer, he “vigorously voiced his misgivings about the way certain bishops were ignoring those whose views were considered to be more extreme”. Himself an Evangelical by conviction, and at a time of considerable Evangelical resurgence in the Church, he felt the need to challenge the dominance of theological liberalism in senior appointments, and did so with penetration, charity, and good humour.

  There were other synodical commitments, of course, notable among them the chairmanship of the Law of Marriage Group — a daunting assignment, but one whose final report was well received, and made a significant contribution to the continuing debate.

  Beyond Synod and Career Plan, Tim Hoare served the London diocese with distinction as chairman of the House of Laity, and for 12 years as treasurer of the London Diocesan Fund. He is remembered as a “most able chairman who exercised leadership with grace, charm and care”.

He found time also for a wide range of Christian (mainly Evangelical) organisations, among them St John’s College, Durham, and Oak Hill Theological College; the Church Pastoral Aid Society’s general committee and board of patronage; the Inter-Continental Church Society and the South American Missionary Society; the National Club and the Daily Prayer Union Trust; and far too many more to list.

He was a familiar figure to all of them (to those within reach of his home in Islington, arriving helmeted by bicycle through the London traffic). For more than 40 years, he was a governor of Canford School in Dorset, remembered for “his friendly, smiling support and encouragement”.

His wife, Felicity, their, son Charles, and twin daughters, Louisa and Kate, were central to his work and happiness; and perhaps never more so than in his 12-year struggle with prostate cancer. During this time, they enabled him to travel: he could pursue his love of, and concern for, the natural world as God’s creation; and he was particularly pleased to serve as a vice-president of Prostate UK, leaders in cancer research.

Seventy-three is no great age today. But many longer lifetimes have seen far less accomplished; few can leave their family and friends with happier memories. Tim Hoare himself would not have seen it that way: it was characteristic of him to turn to John Newton for the opening hymn at his funeral in the church he loved and served: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me”.

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)