Monday, 1 June 2015


The Rev Brian Duckworth

Methodist minister who became 'foreign secretary' to the British churches

Brian Duckworth, minister of the church: born Slough, Buckinghamshire 1 August 1933; ordained a Methodist minister 1957; Youth and Education Secretary, Free Church Federal Council 1957-60; Minister, Moseley Road Church, Birmingham 1960-65; Minister, Cyncoed and Radyr Churches, Cardiff 1965-70; Minister, Hinde Street Church, London 1970-76; Methodist Chaplain, London University 1970-76; Associate General Secretary and Secretary for International Affairs, British Council of Churches 1976-81; Secretary for International and Development Affairs, Methodist Division of Social Responsibility 1981-86, General Secretary 1986-92; Minister, Worcester Park 1992-98; Superintendent, Wimbledon Circuit 1995-98; married 1958 Mary Godbold (died 1992; three daughters), 1995 Sarah Middleton; died Haywards Heath, West Sussex 7 January 2003.
Brian Duckworth was a Methodist minister of rare distinction. Both as a theologian and as an administrator, more often than not out of the public limelight, he made a significant contribution to the British churches' understanding of social policy and of international affairs.
He was born in Slough, in 1933, but his family then moved to Sussex. His father was a Secretary of the National Farmers' Union, his mother a teacher. From Hove County Grammar School he went to St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and gained first class degrees in both Law and Theology. These disciplines remained important tools for Duckworth as both pastor and administrator.
No less important were his gifts as a communicator in both speech and writing. What he did, he did with such precision and in such depth that it often prevented him from reaching a wider public. He lacked the popularising gifts of his elder friend and mentor Donald Soper, but his contribution to the life of his own church and to the whole ecumenical movement was no less significant.
Duckworth's intellectual passion was tempered by a constant questioning of his own conclusions. He was a good listener, secure enough to learn from his critics but never afraid to criticise the institutions he loyally served. He was a reconciler rather than a controversialist, and his radical zest for the truth, which was always somewhere out ahead, never waned.
He began his career in 1957 as Youth Secretary of the Free Church Federal Council. His lifelong devotion to the cause of Christian unity was born at the Assembly of the World Council of Churches in New Delhi four years later. He returned to local ministry in Birmingham as a convinced internationalist. It was a time of great spiritual ferment. In the era of John Robinson's Honest to God many intellectuals were giving up on religious institutions. Duckworth was prepared for the long march through the institutions to transform both church and society. He proved to be a brilliant administrator who was prepared to combine passion for change with reflective patience. In his mind efficient bureaucracy was not at war with the Kingdom of God.
As a founding member of the Methodist Renewal Group Duckworth often challenged the Methodist Conference with new ideas. In 1965 he moved from the Midlands to the Cardiff Circuit of the Methodist Church and five years later to the heart of London. Based at Hinde Street in the West End, he was in his element as a chaplain to London University. His Roman Catholic friend and colleague was Bruce Kent. Always a learner, he embarked on a counselling course to refine his skills as a pastor.
Duckworth's administrative career was launched with his appointment in 1970 as Assistant General Secretary and Secretary for International Affairs of the British Council of Churches. In effect he became the "foreign secretary" of the churches of the British Isles. With analytical skill and a remarkable grasp of world affairs he brought together experts of widely varying views, ranging from within the Establishment to its most radical critics, to produce authoritative papers and reports and so to influence public policy on southern Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. In the search for responsible action he was neither a fence sitter nor a propagandist. I succeeded him and know how hard it was to live up to his exacting standards.
In 1981 Duckworth moved to the Methodist Division of Social Responsibility, first as its International Secretary, then as its General Secretary. The agenda covered the whole area of social policy. He did not shun controversy. Sexual ethics and civil disobedience were among the issues that provided it. He remained influential far beyond Methodism in the field of human rights, development aid, European integration, and the ethics of war and peace. He worked with senior military men and with dedicated pacifists in the Conference on Christian Approaches to Defence and Disarmament, never satisfied with easy answers. His rigour could be uncomfortable, but he was too warm and good-humoured to make enemies.
His final phase of ministry was an ecumenical appointment in Worcester Park in 1992. Alongside this busy pastoral role, he was also hoping for more time with his family – his vivacious wife Mary and their three daughters; but, the same year, Mary died. In 1995 he was surprised by joy in his marriage to Sarah, a second creative partnership.
Retirement in 1998 took him back to his roots by the Sussex Downs. He now had to bring his characteristic concentration to understanding and managing a complex and rare form of cancer. He lived with it positively and actively. When others would have surrendered to illness, he travelled abroad. No natural introvert, he embarked on an inner journey that he was glad to share with those beside him.
One close companion wrote: "Even when in great discomfort he spoke movingly of his conviction that creation was miraculous, upheld and shot through with the goodness of God."
Paul Oestreicher

Oestreicher, a pompous  old man who should know better,  is one of those celebrity clerics, now a life coach and corporate adviser, an unspeakable cunt. 

What he omits from Duckworth's obituary, above, from the scrupulously correct Independent newspaper, is that he was   a bully, a liar, a vile hypocrite and a nonce, a central figure in a national paedophile ring involving his fellow Methodist clergy  and the then Dr Barnardo's so-called children's charity.

I lolled out loud when I heard, last week, that Barnardo's had carried out an investigation into historic Methodist child abuse; well, they would know all about it, being Partners4God in the enterprise. As full and far-reaching a cover-up as we have come to expect from government, church and the law.

Duckworth was the family minister, when, newly arrived from, Belfast, we lived in Moseley, Birmingham.  Methodism is akin to the Ulster Undertakers' Party  religion of Presbyterianism and my mother, an Orangewoman, was keen that we went to Church and in those days, Sunday School, too;  my brother was in the 10th. Birmingham Boys Brigade and I in the Life Boys, they were like the Scouts and the Cubs, although the uniforms aped the Royal Navy and  the motto was Sure and Steadfast, some interpretation of the scripture, Hebrews 6, 19:
"Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast...".
 Drill, uniform, marching bands, games, hymns and parades. Never said  anything about child molestation but they never do, do they, these sonsabitches motivated to do voluntary work with children, to help bring them closer to the Lord's angry, red cock. The wives are as bad, Duckworth's trollop certainly was, queening it in the Church House in Chantry Road, Moseley, while her husband molested children in the spare room.

There is no need to rehearse the details of Brian Duckworth's crimes and, as these things go, it was at the lower end of the scale; it was criminal, nevertheless, and had a huge and deleterious mpact on my early life, as these things do. It was also potentially fatal as some of Duckworth's circle kept semi-prison houses where they coild indulge themselves at whim and I have no way of knowing what happened to children younger and less able to defend themselves than I.

Duckworth's ring included, as I said,  Dr Barnardo's workers and officials, it is the running national abcess, that those most vulnerable are placed in the care of the most vile.

I spoke to the cops in the nineteen-nineties and it was all,  Oh, yes, dreadfuk, but it was a long time ago, hard to prove - it wouldn't, actually, have been hard to prove - best just run along, put it behind you.

Last week I saw some Methodist career cleric arsehole, speaking managerialese on the telly,  about supporting survivors of his erstwhile colleagues' abuse; he means talking shite at them, the filthy bastard.

When I can get a hold of him, my question will be, never mind talking to me, how much are you going to pay me?  How about we atart with the equivalent of what you paid the late Brian Duckworth as a salary during his life of crime?

Bunyan's hymn comes to mind: hobgoblin nor foul fiend, shall daunt his spirit. Hobgoblins and foul fiends, the pulpits of Chritianity are filled with them; men of rare distrinction, indeed, Mr Oestreicher.


DtP said...

Geez man, sounds rather upsetting. I used to get beaten up quite regularly by one of teachers but that's just common and garden bullying /sadism. My best mate had to go to Methodist Church and even at about 7 or 8 years old I think we worked out there was something a bit wrong with the parishioner's enthusiasm. All the best fella

call me ishmael said...

Upsetting isn't the word, mr dick but no need for sympathy, thanks; if you cried, you know you'd fill a lake with tears. I managed to understand it in my thirties but some of the poor wretches I see on the telly have never figured it out. I only get angry when zi think about it and most kf the time I don't.Thst cunt. last week, though, on the box, offering counselling to his colleagues victimd, he really does need a quick rub- down with a housebrick.

SG said...

Your post triggered the return of a something buried in my memory banks Mr I. When I was a boy I joined a Methodist Youth Club, not because I was interested in Methodism or Christianity, but because they had the best youth club. As a condition of membership one had to attend Sunday Services from time to time to be bored rigid (no wonder I'm a Godless heathen!). Anyway, as part of their programme of activities they had organised a weekend away by the seaside, very cheap with lots of activities. The only downside was that we had to attend (endure) religious discussion groups in the evenings. At one of these, the 'minister', sat next to me, suddenly put his hand on my knee and started fondling. I withdrew by knee sharply at which point the hand withered away. Fortunately I did not attract any further interest. I never attended the youth club again. I don't know what it is like now, but I suspect that, at that time, churches of all denominations were crawling with nonces, especially those that provided access to young people. Perhaps it is no longer such a rich seam for them given declining and ageing congregations and, hopefully, child protection arrangements. However, I wouldn't let any child of mine anywhere near a church run youth activity of any kind.

call me ishmael said...

Sorry, mr sg, I didn't mean to revive distress, sometimes can't help it.

I have known the odd clergyman, since, and given him the benefit of the doubt, but I'd as soon cast a child into the fire as into the clutches of the Reverend Beast and his congregants.

I don't believe that the killers of poor Jasaon Swift, for instance, were church-goers but that'll only be because their paths had't crossed those of ghe dustinguished clergy with whom they had so much in common.

And I think, sorry to say, that, formal child protection strategies probably today only grease the nonce's wandering fingers.

At the Barnardos-run seaside trip the only compulsory activity was to let the staff enter the tents and caravans with their cocks out.
Say your prayers, children.

SG said...

None caused Mr I! It would almost amuse me, were it not for the thought that he probably 'succeeded' elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Ishmael, I don't think you can be right about the Methodist minister you name as being at Chantry Rd when you lived in Moseley, Birmingham. I was a home help at that 'church house' for the family who had two young children. The minister's wife was out at work and the personal and professional reputation of the minister I knew bears no resemblance to the way you describe him.