A correspondent writes:
THE Revd John Charles Stallard’s life was infused with his vocation to explore the mystery of the God of love. He communicated to others that they were loved and precious to God. His ministry communicated to others, “you are interesting and worth getting to know”, that life is good and joyful and that there is always hope.
He was a lover of words and always read widely, keeping up a keen interest in theology, history, literature, and politics throughout his life. He wrote throughout his ministry and had published a book of his reflections from the viewpoint of the rectory dachshund.
Charles attended Whitgift School, in Croydon, where he enjoyed learning. After National Service, he read English and theology at Selwyn College, Cambridge. It was during his time at university that his vocation to the priesthood was nurtured, and there he also met Daphne, with whom he shared a wonderful and mutually supportive married life.
Charles trained as a teacher before ordination training at Ripon College, Cuddesdon. He and Daphne moved to the diocese of Birmingham, where he served curacies in Sutton Coldfield and Hall Green, before taking on his first parish at St Bede’s in Brandwood. Charles drew on his drama skills as a priest and became known for his plays, sacred and secular, and for the pantomimes, which drew all kinds of people into the life of the church. These productions were a wonderful way of building a sense of community and helping many to know and offer their gifts to God.
Charles was always keenly involved with ministry to young people; he was a Scout leader, and, wherever he served, he made sure that there were youth clubs and Sunday schools. In the various parishes and dioceses in which he worked — St Hilda’s, Warley Woods, in Birmingham; Droitwitch Spa, and Pensnett, in Worcester; as well as St James and St Basil, Fenham, in Newcastle — he used his gifts of liturgy, drama, and education to enrich the life of communities and to draw fellow clerics together at diocesan events. In Newcastle, Charles had a school ministry as a chaplain and teacher. He served at Dame Allan’s School.
Charles’s sermons were always well prepared, clearly delivered, and often entertaining. He encouraged a number of people to explore their vocation and led many people to discover a faith that is rich and sustaining.
In retirement, Charles continued to offer an active ministry, serving in St Davids, St Asaph, Truro (on the Scilly Isles), and latterly in Bangor. Bishop John Stewart Davies, the former Bishop of St Asaph, wrote: “He seemed to me to possess all the best virtues of an old-school parish priest — prayerfulness, intelligence, kindness, dedication, accessibility, that rare quality of ‘stabilitas’, and much much more. I considered it a privilege to have him in the diocese, and was always glad to see him. He came across as ever cheerful and attentive.”
To his children, he was a figure of great love and a source of wisdom and humour in the family.
Charles’s last illness and the dignity and lack of fear with which he and Daphne faced and shared his last hours are a tribute to the resurrection faith that they both share, one that speaks powerfully of the God who always loves us and of whom there is always more to discover. Charles died on 10 September, aged 85.