Canon David Goodacre
CANON John Williams, who
died in Edinburgh on 21 February, aged 81, after a long illness,
served all his pre-retirement ministry in England.
Ordained in Durham in
1957, he served curacies in Darlington and Camberwell, the second
with Eric James. In 1963, he joined Trevor Beeson and a large team
of curates - of which I was one - as, in effect, Team Vicar in
charge of St James', Hardwick, Stockton-on-Tees. Trevor Beeson's
book New Area Mission describes those exhilarating days,
which in 1968 inspired John to become the Durham Diocesan Social
Responsibility Officer for Local Government for the next 14 years
For the first years, he
was also Rector of Longnewton, but the work grew so that he needed
to give his full time to the pioneering work. He founded the
Endeavour Housing Association in Middlesbrough to meet the need for
He moved to Lichfield diocese in 1982, and became
there the Bishop's Officer for Ministry, and Director of Ordinands.
John was a Canon of Durham and Lichfield Cathedrals.
On retirement, John moved
with his wife, Jean, to Edinburgh, while their two daughters,
Catherine and Elizabeth, remained in England. In Edinburgh, he
joined the ministry team of Christ Church, Morningside. He had been
for many years a full member of the Iona Community. Indeed, Jean
and he had a cottage on the island.
His great work in
retirement grew from his becoming secretary of the Fellowship of
the Maple Leaf, an Anglican grant-giving body concerned to
encourage mutual exchange between the Churches in Britain and
Canada. He and Jean spent the first six months of his retirement in
Canada, and he visited every two years thereafter. In 2008, he was
appointed the Fellowship's honorary president.
John's ministry was significant, one of great vision and
service, embracing radical ideas in order to reach out with the
gospel to people in the modern age. He was in many ways ahead of
his time, combining a love and concern for others with his life of
prayer and worship. Those to whom he ministered look back in
gratitude for his life and ministry.