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Obituary: The Revd Michael Pain

25 January 2019

The Revd Annie Wintour and Patrick Wintour write:

THE Revd Michael Broughton George Pain radiated the love of Christ and communicated that love to all around him.

After a degree at St John’s College, Durham, Michael trained for ordination at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He was ordained priest in Bristol Cathedral in 1964 and served in the dioceses of Bristol, Guildford, and Salisbury.

Michael inspired confidence in others; he encouraged and enabled even the most timid in his flock. As a true shepherd, he knew how to love and support those in his care, and, by walking beside them, helped many to flourish. Through gentle persuasion and an infectious sense of humour Michael brought out the very best in others. Many would testify to the part that he had played in establishing them on their Christian journey.

Michael had a great enthusiasm for the young. Pram services, Pathfinders, and confirmation groups flourished in his parishes. In Bristol diocese, Michael helped to establish a youth centre, Legge House, near Swindon, which is still a valuable resource for young disciples.

Michael enjoyed bringing all ages together for parish holidays and away-days. He saw how friendships could be established and the church grow when congregations were brought together outside the parish.

Passionate about ecumenism, Michael established a local ecumenical partnership with the Methodist churches in Alveston, north Bristol, in the 1970s. He forged strong and lasting relationships with the greatest of ease, such was the trust and confidence that others placed in him. At Christ Church, Guildford, Michael’s friendship with Fr Pat Oliver, of St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, became the launchpad for a pioneering pulpit-exchange initiative. As a result, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor came to preach at Christ Church.

Michael had a gift for invitation. His warm and generous personality lifted barriers and persuaded others to join parish initiatives. He wrote letters, thanked people, had impeccable good manners, and he nurtured the faith of individuals and the whole congregation. Those who trained under Michael discovered new gifts emerging, almost as if Michael himself had planted them.

Further afield, Michael helped to establish the Guildford-Freiburg link, which offered opportunities for the Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Anglican traditions to come together. Through exchange visits and Bible study, this link continues to thrive.

Michael’s ministry was characterised by compassion, care, and energy. When he left Christ Church, Guildford, in 1990, a local newspaper described him as “a champion of the homeless”. This was a fitting description for one who had opened the church building as shelter for the homeless and persuaded the Guildford Council of Churches to set up the Number 5 hostel, a night shelter with direct access.

Michael and his wife, Angela, were strong supporters of Christian Aid and devoted much time and energy to fund-raising for the charity. Sponsored walks and events were enlivened by Michael’s imagination: in the 1960s, newspaper photos show Michael walking in shorts and rugby socks while his clergy colleagues were in more formal attire. In May 2018, Michael and Angela were hon­oured as Christian Aid “Diamonds” for their lifetime of service to the poorest people in the world.

Hospitality and a keen sense of fun were hallmarks of Michael’s ministry. Parties with good food and challenging quizzes were a regular feature of rectory life. Sport also played a major part in Michael’s life; he was both an enthusiastic participant and an ardent observer. In the middle of writing his sermon, Michael would frequently rush out of his study to check the latest score, and on Sunday morning his tribal loyalties would inevitably emerge.

Michael’s unswerving faith in a loving God lay at the heart of his priestly calling. But his compelling ministry was also sustained by his family, to whom he was devoted. Michael’s children speak of a father who, whenever they wandered into his study, would lay down his pen and give them his full and undivided attention. His fatherly goodness began at home, but reached out into the lives of countless others.

With Michael’s death on 4 September 2018, the Church has lost a priest of the highest calibre.

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