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22 August 2014


Pastoral care: the late Bishop John Bone paces out his patch in 1991

Pastoral care: the late Bishop John Bone paces out his patch in 1991

A correspondent writes:
ANGLICAN bishops come in many shapes and sizes, but the Rt Revd John Bone, who died on 5 July, aged 83, was a great example of the quiet, reliable bishop who was trusted by many, worked hard, and never sought the limelight.

Born in 1930, he was educated at Monkton Combe School. After National Service, he took his degrees at St Peter's College, Oxford, and gained a Certificate in Education at Whitelands College, London. He did his ordination training at Ely Theological College. On ordination, in 1956, he became curate at St Gabriel's, Warwick Square, Pimlico, for four years. He then moved to Berkshire, where he was successively Vicar of Henley (1960-63) and of Datchet (1963-76). He became Rural Dean of Burnham, a post that he retained when he became Rector of the multi-racial parish of Slough, working with a team of clergy.

By then, he was a much respected figure in the diocese of Oxford; so it was no surprise when he was appointed Archdeacon of Buckingham in 1978.

In this post, he worked closely with the Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Revd Simon Burrows, who had arrived two years earlier. The great challenge they faced was the development of the new town of Milton Keynes, working both with the development corporation, and with the other Churches, with a common ecumenical strategy.

Bone was the sort of person who encouraged the clergy and looked after them well; at the same time, he knew his own mind, and stood up for what he thought to be right. He was a General Synod member from 1980 to 1985, and was consecrated Bishop of Reading in 1989.

He gave strong pastoral care to the Reading clergy. In the diocese, he played an important part in the Board of Social Responsibility, in the development of ministry, and in the diocesan advisory committee. A considerable administrator, he always had everything well documented and well ordered, which made life easy for his successors. A quiet, wise preacher, he always preached with relevance and humour. He retired to Henley in 1996.

In retirement, he was an assistant bishop in the diocese. For many years, he was Bishop Visitor to the All Saints' Sisters of the Poor, and enabled them to cope with some significant decisions, over their declining numbers, and in their work with children's hospices and the care of the homeless. He helped out in many pastoral situations. He was a person with sound judgement, who could always be trusted.

His great interest was topography, and he had a large collection of books and maps. He was also a keen walker, and a lover of classical music. Early in 2014, illness caused him to give up all pastoral work. More than 400 people attended his funeral in Reading Minster, which, at his request, was conducted by Sister Margaret Anne, of the All Saints' Sisters.

He had married Ruth Crudgington in 1954. They had three sons (one adopted) and two daughters. They all survive him.

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