Bishop Kenneth Gill RIP

20/02/2013

The Rt Revd Kenneth GillThe Rt Revd Kenneth Gill, Assistant Bishop of Newcastle from 1980 to 1998, died on Saturday 16 February at the age of 80.

The Bishop of Newcastle writes:


When I was appointed Bishop of Newcastle in 1997, one of the joys that awaited me was the presence in the diocese of Bishop Kenneth Gill, who had served as the full time Assistant Bishop since 1980. Little did I know then, but very quickly came to appreciate, what an outstanding colleague and friend I had been given by God to share in the Episcopal leadership of this diocese.

Kenneth served his entire ordained ministry as deacon, presbyter and Bishop in two dioceses – Karnataka Central in India and Newcastle. He was a bishop for 41 years and was the last non-national bishop to serve in the Church of South India and the first bishop in the Church of England to be also a Methodist minister. This is a record which is unlikely to be surpassed, and one which enabled him to offer a unique perspective on the life of the Church of South India as well as in North East England. He enjoyed an extraordinary full and diverse Christian life, from his early upbringing in a devout Methodist family in North Yorkshire where he became a Local Preacher at the age of 18, and served two lay pastorates before theological training and the call of God to serve overseas.

His was a life of faith and faithfulness. A life lived in response to God’s call through the Church, which demanded from him every kind of skill. Kenneth had to become a farmer and builder, book-keeper and accountant, businessman and developer, but always in the service of the mission of the Church.

Mission and Unity were the twin themes and commitments of Kenneth’s life. This twin dynamic – unity exists not as an end in itself but to further the mission of the Church, through evangelism and social action – is the golden thread that ran through Kenneth’s ministry.

When “Bishop Gill”, as he was affectionately known by everyone in his diocese, left India he was told, “Please go as our missionary to England”. He did, but his heart never left his beloved India. By his own admission he said that he never left India, but brought India with him to England.

In Newcastle he was much loved across the parishes of the diocese. He served as Diocesan Director of Ordinands and as Warden of Readers. He was a strong advocate of women’s ordained ministry and notably developed ecumenical and interfaith relationships in the city and diocese. Fittingly he was awarded a Lambeth Degree by the Archbishop of Canterbury for his notable contribution to the world wide church.

In 2008, Kenneth celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a deacon and in 2012, the 40th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop. He was a Missionary Bishop who served the Church in the two dioceses with great distinction. His characteristic gentleness, firmness, grace, skill, good humour and devotion were the hallmarks of this follower and disciple of Jesus. For that and for so much more, we have cause to give thanks and praise to God. For Kenneth exemplified the life of faith, the life of hope and the life of love lived out in the service of his Lord and Saviour.

May he rest in peace.

+Martin

 

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Bishop Kenneth's funeral was on Friday 22 February at Holy Trinity Scottish Episcopal Church, Haddington (near Edinburgh). The Bishop of Newcastle was in Botswana but was represented by Bishop Frank White who read a lesson, and the address was given by Canon Murray Haig.

 

 

 

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