Obituaries

Rev. Dr. W.M.S.West, Patron

The ecumenical family of churches, and the Tyndale Society, have lost a fine champion with the death on 1 November of Morris West, aged 77. A former tutor at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, where he had studied, and minister of Dagnall Street Baptist Church, St Albans, he was twice Principal of Bristol Baptist College. In his second short term there, in 1994, he was instrumental in steering the sale of the College’s unique 1526 Tyndale New Testament to the British Library for the record sum of over 1,000,000, thus ensuring that that marvellous volume, almost the last item of the Andrew Gifford Bible collection, went into public ownership for all to see. It immediately became the centre of the BL’s Let There Be Light Exhibition which, after Bloomsbury, was seen by a quarter of a million people in California, New York and Washington DC. For much of his life he was closely associated as a member with Tyndale Baptist Church, Bristol (of which his wife Freda is a deacon), renowned for its Tyndale window.

Morris West, himself the son of a Baptist Minister, was a man of real stature as scholar and minister, and wise leader. He was President of the Baptist Union in 1979, and Moderator of the Free Church Federal Council 1981–2. He held a D.Theol. from the University of Zurich, and was made an Hon. LL.D by the University of Bristol. His published work included a history of the Baptists.

We last spoke three weeks ago, when he telephoned to ask if I could let him have another copy of his paper in Reformation 1, on Tyndale’s 1526 NT and the Gifford collection, to give to a student. He told me he was ill, and thanked God who had allowed him time to organise his demise. As a Society we shall miss him, and we send our prayers and sympathy to his wife Freda and family.

Mr F.T.Mayzes

Member Fred Mayzes died in August. For fifteen years, until his illness in 1997, he was engaged in sending Bibles to Soviet Russia, under his own initiative. He made many Russian friends, and continued to seek to give spiritual help and guidance by correspondence. On his death, his widow Ena received many letters from young believers in Russia.

Though, as he reported, many of the bibles in Russian that he sent were stolen in the post (some to reappear on the black market in other towns at sharply inflated prices, 3 or 4 times the weekly wage) large numbers did get through. Many went to fellow Christians. Some, as he vividly recalled, went to searchers for the truth. In September 1987 he went to Russia and visited his enquirer friends in Novomoskosk, in central Russia. He recalled that he met Galina, the deputy head of a school at which he had spoken, who asked him searching questions about the Old Testament.

When we eventually got round to the New Testament with its message she wept openly and said to me later, ‘Fred my intellect tells me one thing but my heart tells me another. Please pray for me.’

We sent to Ena our condolences and prayers, and we rejoice that his work lives on.

(Readers may also recall the article Bible Smuggling During the Cold War by W.R.Cooper in Journal no. 5, October 1996.)

Mr R.J.Whittern

Reg Whittern, one of our earliest members, who died on 5 June, was born in Tetbury in Gloucestershire, and from boyhood was always keen to know more about Tyndale. He and his wife Gladys were in the audience for the wonderful performance of John Barnet’s The Ploughboy’s Story in the yard at Hunt’s Court Farm in September 1994. Together they undertook evangelistic work for most of their married life, having recently celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary. Reg developed summer camp work and outreach at agricultural shows, making deputation films and organising bible exhibitions. As a recent tribute put it, ‘A gracious and godly man he will be greatly missed for his lively mind and influence upon all who knew him.’ We extend our sympathy, and our prayers, to Gladys.

David Daniell

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