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Lord Cormack, champion of churches and devotee of the Prayer Book, dies, aged 84

26 February 2024

Roger Harris

Lord Cormack

Lord Cormack

TRIBUTES have been paid to the Conservative politician and prominent churchman Lord Cormack, who has died, aged 84.

Lord Cormack was an MP from 1970 to 2010, when he received a life peerage. He was a member of the General Synod from 1995 to 2005, and served on the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament, before resigning in 2021 over the Church’s handling of safeguarding (News, 24 September 2021).

He was also a vice-president of the National Churches Trust (NCT) and Deputy High Steward of Lincoln Cathedral.

The Archbishop of Canterbury described Lord Cormack on Sunday as “a vivid character whose decades of public service were driven by his Christian service. . . His carefully timed and well-judged interventions spoke to his strong Christian faith guiding his values and prompting his interventions.

“Patrick was a traditionalist, an old-fashioned Conservative who, in the Lords, was willing to criticise his own party when it acted against Christian principles. But he was not tribal. He disagreed with many things done by bishops and archbishops, but remained a friend, an adviser, and someone to whom we could all turn. He was unfailingly kind and courteous, and his and his beloved wife Mary’s home in Lincoln was a place of generous hospitality.

“My prayers are with his wife, Mary, sons Charles and Richard, and their wider family.”

The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, expressed “deep sadness” at news of Lord Cormack’s death, whom he described on social media as “a great friend of the Lords Spiritual and many others in Parliament, a zealous son of the Church and a fearless champion of standards in public life”.

The Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, described Lord Cormack as “a dear friend and unstinting supporter during my time as Bishop of Lincoln. He will be greatly missed for his service to the arts and heritage across Greater Lincolnshire and beyond. His passion, energy, imagination, and deep determination were fuelled by a profound Christian faith, lived out through his commitment to the worship and life of Lincoln Cathedral, as a former churchwarden of St Margaret’s, Westminster, and in his wider contribution to parish life, not least through the cadences of the Book of Common Prayer, to which he was devoted.

“I have learned from him as a fine parliamentarian who was glad to proclaim his Christian faith and go against the tide for the sake of truth. This was equally the case for his service in Parliament, on its Ecclesiastical Committee, and during his time on General Synod.”

Lord Cormack was remembered in prayers at evensong in Lincoln Cathedral on Sunday.

The Interim Dean of Lincoln, Canon Nick Brown, said that Lord Cormack had been “enthusiastic in engaging others to support the life of the cathedral — especially in his role as Deputy High Steward, a role in which he successfully raised funds for a number of projects connected with the cathedral.

“As well as his contribution in the role of Deputy High Steward, Patrick was, of course, dedicated to the worship of God in this holy place in which we are privileged to offer worship to God. Patrick was a dedicated member of the cathedral community, who was regularly seen at daily services in the cathedral whenever the wider demands of a busy life allowed. Patrick held a strong faith that informed and illuminated all he did in many fields of life, and he was a devoted and passionate advocate for the cathedral and its worship.”

A statement from Lincoln Cathedral said that funeral arrangements would be publicised once they were known.

The NCT wrote on its social-media account: “We are saddened to hear of the death of Lord Cormack, who faithfully served as Vice-President of the National Churches Trust for over 40 years. Lord Cormack was a champion of churches, and he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

The Chairman of the Prayer Book Society, Bradley Smith, said: “Lord Cormack served as a loyal and faithful President of the Prayer Book Society over several decades. I always found him a wise and kind counsellor, ever willing to offer sage advice and his full support of all our aims and activities. A number of new initiatives in recent years have helped promote the Prayer Book to a new generation which he always encouraged and helped bring to a wider audience. We will miss him greatly.”

Read Lord Cormack’s obituary here

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