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THE RT REVD CHRISTOPHER CHARLES LUXMOORE

by
11 April 2014

The Revd Ian Forrester writes:

THE Rt Revd Christopher Luxmoore, who died on 24 February, aged 87, was born in Boroughbridge Vicarage, Yorkshire, into a family well used to providing clergy for the Church of England. Sent at the age of seven to a boarding school in Ripon, he moved on to Sedbergh School.

He joined the army at 18, and trained as an officer at Sandhurst. Commissioned into the Green Howards Regiment, in which he served from 1944 to 1947, he was sent to India to be aide-de-camp to General Rankin in Calcutta, and was there for the partition of India in 1947, and for the Calcutta riots.

While there, he joined an expedition into Tibet, crossing the Himalayas on a mule while on a delegation to the Abbot of Gyansei.

After the army, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, before training for ordination at Chichester Theological College, under the Principal at that time, John Moorman.

Christopher was made deacon in 1952 and ordained priest in 1953, serving his title under Ian Pettitt at St John's, Newcastle. He married Judith in 1955, and became the Vicar of St Bede's, Newsham, near Blyth. While there, he organised the building of a new church.

In 1958, Christopher and Judith moved to Trinidad, where Christopher continued his tradition of building in providing a new church in Salibia. He and Judith also continued to build their family.

They returned to Great Britain in 1967, when Christopher was appointed incumbent of Headingley, near Leeds. By the time he left there, in 1981, he had built a new middle school in the parish.

Generations of former Chichester ordinands retained a great affection for the city's cathedral. Christopher was, therefore, delighted to answer the call of Bishop Eric Kemp, in 1981, to be Canon Precentor.

He contributed to the cathedral's work in many ways, but will long be remembered for exercising a warm and committed ministry to the congregation. He was, first and foremost, a parish priest at heart - a theme that continued throughout his life, although the Luxmoore family were highly valued for allthat they brought to bear on thelife of the cathedral community. Christopher loved the people, and did much pastoral work among them: visiting, taking the sacrament to the sick, and hearing the confessions of many.

Christopher was a very definite Anglo-Catholic. He was also very Church of England. He had a solid prayer life, was a daily communicant, and was punctilious in his preparation for services.

When he preached, his style was rather didactic. It was the faith of the Church which he was proclaiming, with confidence and fluency. Such confidence in the faith is sometimes looked upon with suspicion by those who perhaps desire more elbow-room, but, because Christopher was warm, friendly, and approachable, he promoted his faith by being seen to live as well as preach it.

When his appointment as Bishop of Bermuda was announced in 1984, there were feelings both of sadness that the cathedral was losing Christopher's ministry, and also of gladness that his pastoral skills were to be exercised on a larger canvas. His consecration took place in Chichester Cathedral. As far as is known, it was the first episcopal consecration there.

Although not large, the diocese of Bermuda brought its own challenges and joys, and the provision of a new building for the cathedral office was a great achievement. The diocese was represented at Christopher's funeral requiem in Chichester Cathedral.

His ministry was not, of course, all that mattered to him. He and Judith had five children: Nicholas, Jonathan, Paul, Benedict, and Ruth. Whenever he was asked about his children, Christopher would glow with pride as he described their progress. His family, including eventually 17 grandchildren, brought him great joy and satisfaction.

Again, at Bishop Kemp's invitation, the Luxmoores returned to Sussex in 1989, and Christopher served for a little while as Archdeacon of Lewes and Hastings. He was also appointed Provost of Lancing, with responsibility for appointing the chaplains of the Southern Division of the Woodard schools, among whom he quickly became known as a good, holy, and supportive shepherd.

In Christopher, children saw and experienced an authentic pastor. When he spoke, they listened; when he conducted worship, they engaged; and when he confirmed, they were excited with holiness. One pupil once remarked that she liked his smile: "It goes all the way up to his eyes," she said.

Christopher and Judith lived in Chichester, and in his retirement Christopher continued to serve as an Assistant Bishop in the diocese.

A great liturgical performer, he was often in demand to bless this or dedicate that, and to lend his name to this or that cause. It was a sadness that his health began to decline. Always a realist, Christopher was courageous enough to say that he was going to cease public ministry because he no longer felt "quite on the ball". But, even as he declined, his demeanour and practice of the faith still proclaimed the word and works of God.

After he suffered a stroke, even the valiant Judith knew that his needs were now more than she could physically manage, and he went to live in Augusta Court.

In the closing months of his life, Christopher might have been thought to be "out of it". But he had not lost his awareness. He opened his mouth and presented his tongue to receive the Bread of Life, the food for the journey. When absolved or blessed, he would move his right arm to try to make the sign by which death has been conquered.

And, then, Christopher was called from Chichester for the third time by his Lord. In the previous days, all of his children had been with him to bid him a safe journey, and Judith, faithful as ever, was with him to the end of this life.

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