Former Horsham bishop remembered by friends

JPCT 091214 S14500550x Contributed COPY PICTURE Bishop Colin Docker - COPY by Steve Cobb SUS-140912-111939001
JPCT 091214 S14500550x Contributed COPY PICTURE Bishop Colin Docker - COPY by Steve Cobb SUS-140912-111939001

The former Bishop of Horsham, the Rt Rev Colin Docker, has been described in tributes this week as a ‘fine servant of the Lord’.

Bishop Colin, who served in the role from 1984 to 1991, died suddenly at his home last month aged 88.

A thanksgiving service was held today at St Mary’s Parish Church in The Causeway.

There, the current Bishop of Horsham the Rt Rev Mark Sowerby said: “He is not someone who came and went and could be detached from the cloth as if he’d never been here. Colin Docker’s ministry is so very much woven into the life of this household of faith that it would simply not be the same tapestry without him and it would not tell the story that it does.”

Bishop Colin played a major role in reorganising the Diocese of Chichester in the 1970s, helping write what became known as the Docker Report.

Bishop Mark added: “It was a structure that allowed the Bishop of Horsham to exercise patronage and to take responsibility for the recruitment and movement of clergy. To this, Bishop Colin brought his legendary and profound understanding of people. He saw not only when a parish needed a change but also where a move might be just the opportunity needed to rescue a floundering ministry.”

The father of two was appointed Bishop of Horsham following posts in Midhurst, Seaford and Eastbourne.

Former Vicar of Horsham Canon Derek Tansill said: “As Bishop of Horsham Colin knew his clergy well and was tireless in visiting the parishes in his area.

“He had a strong pastoral heart and was never happier than when engaging with the congregations of his churches.

“Colin was a keen ecumenist and will be remembered for the fine work which he did in furthering relations between the Anglican and Old Catholic Churches. He was a fine servant of the Lord.”

Father Gordon Bond, who served as his domestic chaplain, said: “He was a splendid bishop. He loved his clergy and they loved him. There was a great respect - one for the other. He was also a loving family man.”

The current Vicar of Horsham Rev Guy Bridgewater added: “Bishop Colin continues to be most fondly remembered here in Horsham and the Diocese of Chichester that he served with such distinction.

“At his funeral he was described as ‘an ordinary man with an extraordinary ministry’, and his heritage can be clearly seen in the many Sussex lives he has touched and continues to inspire. We pray for his wife Thelma in her loss, and we commend Bishop Colin to the God of love and peace: Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord.”

He and his wife Thelma moved to Devon where he was assistant bishop at Exeter Cathedral. His funeral was held there last month. He also leaves a son, a daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.