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Obituary: Lionel Wadeson

30 November 2012

By Dr Brian Hanson

Dr Brian Hanson writes:
LIONEL WADESON, who died on 13 November, aged 86, spent 26 years in the service of the Church as an Assistant Secretary, first in the Church Assembly, and then in the General Synod.

He was born in 1925, and educated at Sherborne School and St John's College, Oxford. Unusually, he qualified as a solicitor in 1952 while working for Courtaulds Ltd. Having worked in their Legal Department, he then went as a lawyer to British Nylon Spinners Ltd, and left them in 1964 to join the small office that ran the Church Assembly under the direction of Sir John Guillum Scott.

Wadeson became secretary to the Assembly's House of Clergy, and was also responsible for a number of committees, including the one considering replacing the Assembly by a more synodical body. The Assembly agreed proposals for the creation of a General Synod, and this was inaugurated in November 1970.

Guillum Scott became the first Secretary General to the Synod, and Wadeson became an Assistant Secretary to the new body. One of his first tasks (which he continued to the end of his career) was to act as secretary to the Standing Orders Committee under the chairmanship of O. W. H. Clark; in the early days of the Synod, standing orders were constantly being modified to deal with procedures in the new body which differed from those in the Assembly.

Wadeson was also responsible for the editing of the Synod's Report of Proceedings - a mammoth task, given that the Synod met three times a year. This verbatim record of the Synod's proceedings had to be corrected by Wadeson without the benefit of the electronic devices available today.

In the first 20 years of the life of the General Synod, a number of far-reaching reviews took place in which Wadeson was much involved - usually as secretary. These reviews led to legislation including the Repair of Benefice Buildings Measure 1972, the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978, and liturgical reform paving the way for modern-language services.

Wadeson later also became Secretary to the General Synod's House of Laity, where a number of separate meetings were needed before the women-priests legislation could reach the statute book.

He was always a thorough administrator with great charm and good humour, who thereby was able to calm a General Synod member who might be over-excited by a debate. On retirement, he was awarded the OBE for services to the Church of England.

In his long retirement, Lionel Wadeson read for a second degree, and enjoyed his large family of children, stepchildren, and grandchildren. He had a daughter and two sons by his first wife, Jane, who predeceased him by more than 30 years. He then married his second wife, Ruth, with whom he had a long and happy marriage; and she nursed him faithfully in his final illness. A large congregation attended the funeral eucharist held in St Mary the Virgin, Twickenham, where he had worshipped for more than 40 years.

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