Canon Peter Sedgwick writes:
I WAS grateful to the Rt Revd Tim Stevens for his obituary of the Revd John Lee (Gazette, 21 October) and to Canon Angela Tilby for her tribute, also (Comment, 14 October).
John Lee arrived in Westminster in 1998 as Clergy Appointments Adviser. I was in post in the Board for Social Responsibility, having a background in theological education. John Mantle joined the next year, as Archbishops’ Adviser for Bishops’ Ministry. We found we had much in common, and the three of us met informally over lunch near Church House on a regular basis for the next six years.
We were united in our belief in the importance of pastoral ministry as being at the heart of what Anglicanism had to offer. Both John Lee and John Mantle sought to affirm the nature of all ministry as being rooted in prayer, committed to telling things as they were, and resistant to an over-managerial view of what clergy were called to. All of us wondered how the church would change in the next few decades, as it wrestled with the issue of smaller congregations.
In 2004, I left Church House to take up the post of Principal of St Michael’s College, Llandaff, and John Mantle became Bishop of Brechin in 2005. The three of us no longer met on a regular basis, although from time to time we exchanged emails and conversations. Sadly, John Mantle died, aged 65, in 2010. I remember very well John Lee’s reflection after that funeral on the time the three of us had had together.
John Lee leaves behind him a magnificent legacy. I suggested to several former students of St Michael’s that they discussed their next move with John Lee. One of them wrote to me last month: “He had a distinct aura of quiet authority and calm . . . saintly even.”
That is a very accurate judgement, and it is how he will be remembered.