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26 April 2013

THE Revd Dr Colin Davey, who died on 6 April, aged 78, had a notable career as an Anglican ecumenist.

He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. After training at Cuddesdon, he was made deacon in 1961 and ordained priest in 1962, and served his title at St Agnes's, Moseley, in Birmingham.

After a year licensed to officiate in Europe, he spent three as sub-warden of St Boniface's College, Warminster, and held a brief second curacy at Bath Weston, before becoming Assistant Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Counsellors on Foreign Relations, and Anglican Secretary of ARCIC, in 1970.

In 1974, he returned to parish work, in London diocese, but, from 1983 to his retirement in 2000, he was involved full-time in ecumenical work, first as Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs of the British Council of Churches (BCC), and then as Church Life Secretary of the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland (later CTBI).

The Revd Jean Mayland writes: Colin Davey was a committed and meticulous servant of the ecumenical movement, to which he devoted much of his life. I knew him first when I was a member of the BCC and some of its various committees, including the Standing Committee. We all had a great respect for him and his work. Later, I was his colleague at CTBI, when he was Secretary for Church Life, and I was at the Desk for the Community of Women and Men. When he retired, I took his place as co- ordinating Secretary for Church Life. In both roles, I found Colin a splendid support.

Colin had a special knowledge of the Orthodox Churches, and many Orthodox clergy came to his farewell service. He told me once that his most painful ecumenical memory was being anathematised by the Orthodox, when he was part of a delegation to a conference at a monastery in Athens, just after the ordination of women to the priesthood in England.

In spite of this, he always fully supported me as a priest, and was delighted when I succeeded him, went to a meeting in the same Orthodox monastery, was was well received, and my priesthood discussed in an open and friendly way. At that stage, inclusive language for God seemed to disturb the Orthodox much more.

One of the aspects of his work which gave Colin most satisfaction was the series of ecumenical Lent courses which he inspired and edited meticulously. He also kept in touch with a network of ecumenical study groups that used these courses. I remember his talking about this at a fringe meeting of the Conference of European Churches. People were amazed by what had been achieved.

Both the Lent courses and the ecumenical movement are now pale shadows of their former selves. Colin, however, never lost heart. He always believed that the winter would pass and a new ecumenical spring would arrive.

Now we trust he is in the nearer presence of God, where the divisions between the Churches must seem just nonsense. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

The Ven. Eddie Shirras adds: Colin Davey had been at St Paul's, South Harrow, for a year when I became vicar of a neighbouring parish in 1975, after seven years on the staff of the Church Pastoral Aid Society.

Cautious of any hasty ecumenical involvement, I was quickly won over by Colin's proposal for a weekly one-hour devotional meeting for Bible study and prayer for the clergy and ministers of South Harrow. This included the staff of three parish churches, the Roman Catholic priests, and the ministers of the Baptist, the Evangelical Free, and the Pentecostal churches. Before long, a House Church leader also joined the group. This set a pattern for my links with other ministers.

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