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24 October 2014

The Ven. George Howe writes:

THE Ven. David Jenkins, who died on 16 September, aged 86, shared his name with clerical and other luminaries. This was occasionally a source of confusion and fun; but for those of us who knew him, there could only ever be one DTIJ - David Thomas Ivor Jenkins.

David exercised the Christian charism of hospitality as no other. Many people, during David's long and faithful service, benefited from his gift of being the perfect host. By his building of friendships over a good lunch, or at a party, David's ministry blossomed, flourished, and bore fruit. One of his hallmark sayings as he worked a room at the start of what might prove to be a tricky meeting was: "Well, I must say, isn't this nice!" And he really meant it. He revelled in the company of others.

David had a long and distinguished active ministry of 46 years, the first eight served in the diocese of Coventry, and 38 years in Carlisle diocese, which David loved. He remained proud of his Welsh roots in the valleys, and retained his passion for Welsh rugby; but the city of Carlisle readily became his adopted home, and that of his first wife, Rose, and daughter, Sian.

The range of his ministry was remarkable: he worked under four diocesan Bishops, first as Assistant Director of RE; then as a parish priest in Carlisle, first at St Barnabas's for nine years, and then for 19 years at St Cuthbert's. There, he firmly cemented the place of St Cuthbert's as the civic church, ministering to the City Council.

He later reflected that his time at St Cuthbert's were the golden days of his ministry, and his subsequent four years as a Canon Residentiary of the cathedral were his halcyon days. In retirement, it was his time at St Cuthbert's which he most often recalled, prompting his second wife, Kathy, to threaten to inscribe on his gravestone: "When I was at St Cuthbert's".

Remarkably, he managed to combine the responsibilities of that demanding parish with those of Diocesan Secretary - a tribute to his boundless energy and his administrative skills. Ably supported by his secretary, Eleanor Scott, he ensured that Church House was a "happy ship". It was fitting that this rare combination of gifts, and remarkable record of service to Christ's Church, culminated in his final four years as Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness; fitting, too, because David was a problem-solver.

Paying tribute to him on his retirement in 1999 (aged 71), Bishop Richard Garrard wrote of David as "a man who works and prays to keep life in order . . . who can enthuse and amuse at the same time". He entitled the tribute "a scrutable man" - the opposite of inscrutable: a man of openness and frankness, persistence and resilience.

David also served the wider Church, most notably for 20 years from 1985, and into his retirement years, as Synodal Secretary to the Convocation of York. Successive Archbishops were grateful to him for manoeuvring his way round its somewhat arcane proceedings.

Throughout his ministry, David was supported by his many friends, but also, of course, by those closest to him - first, Rose and Sian; and then, after the sadness of Rose's premature death, he found new love and companionship with Kathy, which saw him well through to a contented retirement.

Although David admitted that he was really a "townie", he came to love the peace and quiet of the Eden valley. He and Kathy greatly valued the fellowship, friendship, and support of the congregation at Bampton, where they had been married in 1992. On Trinity Sunday this year, he worshipped at St Patrick's, Bampton, for the final time, appropriately celebrating the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

David and Kathy shared a keen commitment to the Mitre Housing Association, of which David had been Chair; and of the Carlisle Diocesan Conference Centre at Rydal Hall, where David had also served on the Board. He had also latterly been very involved (with Kathy) in the Friends of Rydal association - yet another opportunity to build up friendships for a purpose: for the building up of the Kingdom of God. In retirement, he was also able to indulge his passion for golf. He had once had a handicap of eight, and was proud of several holes-in-one at Carlisle.

David's life and work was carried out to God's glory. We thank God for such a good and faithful steward, and pray that he will indeed enter into the joy of his master and revel in the heavenly banquet.

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