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15 November 2019

Canon John Corbyn writes:

I CAME to know the Revd Colin Powell (Gazette, 25 October) when he was Vicar of St Luke’s, Cheetham Hill, north Manchester, and I was a student. By the time we met, not only was the area a very depressed one in general, but he and his small congregation had left St Luke’s, a large Commissioners’ church, in bad repair, to use the local United Reformed Church. He lived in a large terraced house, where one of the neighbouring houses was effectively abandoned and in bad repair, with deleterious consequences for the vicarage. But Colin faithfully soldiered on.

He had a notable preaching ministry. I still remember a sermon of his on the rich young man. In response to Jesus’s comment that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven, the disciples ask Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus’s response to this was, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” I feel that “With God all things are possible” was at the heart of Colin’s life and ministry, the conviction that kept him going in difficult times.

Canon Chris Stone writes:

FR WILFRID MCGREAL O.CARM.(Gazette, 1 November) was already a BBC Radio Kent regular when we first met more than 20 years ago. I had been asked to help answer the phones for the station’s Lent series, and Fr Wilf was one of those taking part. As we talked, it became clear that we had interests in common, not least a background in radio and in church communications.

Fr Wilf was approachable and compassionate, rooted in the Carmelite tradition, and committed to sharing the insights that came from his Christian faith. On air and off, he was always willing to tackle difficult and sometimes controversial issues.

At Aylesford Priory, I well remember Fr Wilf’s greeting, always full of warmth and concern, embodying the community’s reputation for hospitality and generosity.

Later, we worked together on a range of programmes, including several Lent series, he presenting — understated and yet penetrating to the heart of whatever issue it was — and I producing. Travelling with Fr Wilf around the county to record interviews was a chance to chat, and always a delight.

Fr Wilf was passionate about ecumenical relations, encouraging the different Churches to work together, both nationally and locally. He chaired Churches Together in Kent for a several years, and how thrilled he was to be made one of Rochester Cathedral’s Ecumenical Canons of Honour. A few years later, he joined the Rochester diocesan journey from Rome to Rochester in 2004, marking the diocese’s 1400th anniversary — a pilgrimage that included a very special, for him and us, audience with Pope John Paul II.

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