The Rev Bryan Rippin obituary

Other lives: Methodist minister who inspired a following wherever he went

My friend and mentor Bryan Rippin, who has died aged 85, inspired thousands during his Methodist ministry, which took him to urban centres across Britain, including Bradford, Wolverhampton and the East End of London. His 1985 book The Christian Juggler spelt out the rich complexity of being Christian in the modern, pluralist world.

Born in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, Bryan moved with his family to Harpenden, Hertfordshire, attending St Albans grammar school. He became a convinced pacifist during national service, and was imprisoned for several weeks. In 1954 he began his training at Didsbury Methodist College, Bristol.

In 1960 he married Jan, elder daughter of the Leeds United and England footballer Eric Stephenson, who had been killed in action in Burma during the second world war. Bryan was ordained in July that year and appointed to Bradford. One of his four churches, Cooperville, benefited from his artistic vision, being turned around through 180 degrees and invested with stunning murals.

In Aspley, Nottingham, from 1964, Bryan developed strong relationships with local Anglicans, before moving to Wolverhampton in 1970. There he created an ecumenical team ministry, putting into practice his vision of a multicultural church playing a wide role in the community. Centred on the inner-city Stratton Street church, the team consisted of Methodist, Anglican and United Reformed ministers as well as a social worker, a college lecturer and a teacher.

From 1979 he was based in Poplar, east London, where he relished community work in the Isle of Dogs, collaborated with Bow and Stepney missions and built links with Oxford University students. He became chair of the Methodist church’s Sheffield district organisation in 1989, supporting church and community initiatives as pastor for the ministers and deacons.

After retiring in 1996, Bryan taught in Sheffield at the Urban Theology Unit, before moving to Bath, where he joined Horizon Methodist church, which gave care to homeless people. He was much sought after as a preacher, and for his allotment produce.

An aspiring gourmet and oenophile, Bryan revered the abundance of creation, and loved music of all kinds. He is survived by Jan, who amplified his ministry as a science teacher in Wolverhampton and Poplar, by his three daughters, Joanna, Rebecca and Noelene, and by five grandchildren.

Philip Lodge

The GuardianTramp

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