The Revd Brian Hill: 1934-2022
On a hot Monday in July, the Baptist chapel in Newbold Verdon, Leicestershire, home church of Brian Hill, who died on 6 June 2022, was filled with those whose lives had been the richer for his friendship or acquaintance, as we gathered to remember, give thanks, and say farewell.
Brian kept a deep commitment to the village and county of his birth and upbringing but was also fully engaged in other communities he served in his older middle years. Underlying it all was the foundation of Christian faith which was the bedrock of his love of and commitment to his family.
The eldest of four children, the chapel and the family newsagents and electrical business shaped his upbringing – he served as church secretary for many years, was actively involved as a local lay preacher, and
developed and expanded the range and effectiveness of community service through their local shop while chairing the Board of Governors at the local school and election to the Rural District and Parish Councils.
His intellectual ability and academic gifting stood him in good stead for the contribution he was able to make to local life. His willing response to family circumstances kept him there, but in 1979 Brian was at last able to follow the calling, both academic and pastoral, which he had sensed strongly throughout his life.
He was in his mid-40s when he joined a group of mostly (much!) younger students preparing for ministry at Bristol Baptist College - and it is testimony to his character that some of us who were still struggling with our own sense of identity and purpose were quietly drawn into the wider orbit of his closer family.
Chris, who had married Brian in 1957, maintained the business and the weekly continuity of life with their three young adult/teenage children yet never failing to welcome new friends.
On leaving Bristol in 1981, Brian was called to the pastorate of Long Buckby and Little Brington churches in Northamptonshire, moving in 1991 to Trinity Baptist Church in Chesham, Bucks, serving there until his retirement in 1999. Brian and Chris then moved back to Leicestershire where he gave pastoral oversight to West Haddon Baptist Church, regularly leading worship and preaching until failing eyesight intervened. In each of these pastorates, his ministry was enhanced and sustained by the partnership which he and Chris brought in mutual service to the churches.
Longstanding family friend, Ted Hale, leading his funeral and thanksgiving service, drew attention to the thoughtfulness of Brian’s life, and we knew that although he was born with that capacity, it was also something that he honed and disciplined throughout his life, marked by an attention to detail in everything, and by his thoughtfulness for others. The detail of his thinking extended to meticulously planning his own funeral order of service and leaving detailed explanatory notes on the significance of the hymns; and the lives of so many people have been touched by his unobtrusive acts of care and kindness.
Those who came to know Brian soon learnt that such kindness was matched by his strength of spirit and unwavering convictions, and also recognised his dry humour which sometimes needed a second glance at the expression in his eyes to be sure of his reactions!
We give thanks to God for his servant Brian and are grateful beyond words to Chris and their children Clive, Rachel and Elizabeth, with their families, for enabling and supporting his ministry and friendship.
Hazel Sherman, August 2022