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Obituary: The Rt Revd Clive Young

13 November 2015

Prayerfulness: the Rt Revd Clive Young

Prayerfulness: the Rt Revd Clive Young

The Archdeacon of Pontefract writes:

THE Rt Revd Clive Young, Bishop of Dunwich from 1999 until 2013, died on 7 October. He was 67, and had been retired for just two years. His funeral took place on 23 October at Dore Abbey, and was followed by his burial in the churchyard there.

Coming to Suffolk from the diocese of London, where he had served since ordination, and was latterly the Archdeacon of Hackney, Clive moved seamlessly from the busyness of London to rural East Anglia. Although he claimed that being an archdeacon was the best job in the Church of England, he was in many ways a natural suffragan bishop. Totally loyal to the diocesan, he was comfortable enough in his own skin never to seek the limelight (his was the smallest mitre on the bench) or to leave anybody in any doubt about who was running the diocese. In common with his first diocesan in Suffolk, Richard Lewis, the late Bishop Jim Thompson was a great inspiration.

Preaching at Clive’s consecration at Southwark Cathedral, Angela Tilby made play of the shepherd’s crook, with the rounded end for pulling the sheep in, and the sharp end for giving them a good prod. Although Clive did much to pull the sheep in, not least by his transparent faithfulness and sense of humour, he was never afraid to put one right.

Inclined to keep above the rough and tumble of church politics, and, like a good submariner, going deep and silent, he was never in anybody’s pocket. His own man, he was an effective chairman of the diocesan mission and pastoral committee, and an appreciated guide to those on the road to ordination.

With a quiet authority, he was trusted and valued by clergy and laity alike, not least because of his prayerfulness and the care which he took in his meticulously prepared sermons. Wise and inspiring, he loved the parish round, took a deep interest in people, and was particularly valued by the farming community, especially in times of crisis.

He had an extensive hinterland. Widely read, and an able writer, although characteristically quite reticent about the depth of his learning, he was an accomplished pianist and organist, and greatly valued his membership of the Hymn Society.

He was an Essex man. King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, was followed by St John’s College, Durham, and then later Ridley Hall, during the short tenure of Prebendary Francis Palmer as Principal. An Evangelical who valued both word and sacrament, Clive was never partisan or narrow, but, rather, cherished the Church of England in its diversity.

As he said in his own inimitable style, in an address to an Affirming Catholicism meeting in London, celebrating the consecration of Bishop Libby Lane: ". . . standing at an East Anglian altar, the sun streaming through the east window, the faces of the congregation are illuminated. In the run-up to the Sanctus, I keep half an eye on the organist (any sign we going to sing or say? I’ve forgotten what we said. . . I do hope it’s sung. . .) and I look towards the roof — and look, there are angels; holes in their wings, knocked about a bit by history.

"Whether it’s a trick of the light, or the Holy Spirit, or varifocals and the dizziness brought on by alternatives in Common Worship, I don’t know, but every celebration becomes an inclusive concelebration, make no mistake. ‘The company of heaven’ — ‘the heavenly host’, draw us in."

A strong and happy marriage of more than 40 years to Sue, daughter of the indomitable missionary couple Bishop Cyril and Mrs Kathleen Tucker, made theirs a hospitable home, where fun and laughter was never far away. Clive enjoyed his time off, their house in Herefordshire, and, not least, their early-morning walks in Christchurch Park in Ipswich, with their incorrigible terrier Monmouth.

On retiring from Suffolk to Herefordshire, after a farewell service in a packed cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, he emailed me to say that I could now update his obituary thus: "he disappeared into the Welsh mists, to cultivate a garden, to sounds of organ music in the hills." This he did, but, sadly, for all too short a time.


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