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Parke’s People No 21. The Rev’d Kenneth Stevenson

Published on: 3 Jun, 2013
Updated on: 3 Jun, 2013

In the latest of an occasional series about people who have a connection with Guildford in one way or another, Bernard Parke recalls the former rector of Holy Trinity Church, the Rev’d Kenneth Stevenson.

The Rev'd Kenneth Stevenson when he was rector of Holy Trinity and St Mary's Churches.

The Rev’d Kenneth Stevenson when he was rector of Holy Trinity Church, Guildford.

“I hope that I never lose the heart of a parish priest. If I do I shall become a bad bishop.” These words were attributed to perhaps one of the most popular parish priests within the borough of Guildford, who was later appointed the Bishop of Portsmouth.

He came to Guildford in 1986 as rector of Holy Trinity Church. He had already enjoyed a distinguished career in theology, during which he had written several books.

The most notable of these were The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Anglican Tradition and The Mystery of the Baptism in the Anglican Tradition.

He is remembered for his work promoting links between the Church of England and the Lutheran Church and for his active work in the House of Lords, being one of the 26 bishops who have that honour.

While In Guildford he did much to help cement the Church with the borough, as Holy Trinity Church played, as now, an important role in civic events.

Kenneth was the son of a Scotsman who served with M16 in Denmark during World War Two, where he met his bride to be. Kenneth followed the family tradition of his grandfather who also had the honour of also becoming a bishop.

His workload as bishop in Portsmouth was far more than one would expect in a reasonably small diocese.

This work was brought to an untimely halt when, in 2005, he was struck down with acute leukaemia. He underwent six months’ treatment returning to his active role on Maundy Thursday the following year.

However, his condition worsen over the next three years and he had to retire in 2009. He then moved to Chichester.

Kenneth came to terms with death during the latter stages of life and elected to receive only palliative care. During that period he spent many hours with his family.

The former Bishop of Guildford, (until 2003) , the Rt Rev’d John Gladwin, visited Kenneth in hospital in his last few days. He was reported as saying during a BBC interview that our former rector of Holy Trinity was “a man very much at peace and the Christian spirit of the love of God ran through his veins”.

The Rev’d Kenneth Stevenson was a man who we in Guildford loved. We shall not forget him and the time he spent among us.

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