Venerable Charles Forder

This obituary is from the The Telegraph 27/10/08

The Venerable Charles Forder, who died on October 10 aged 101, was Archdeacon of York from 1957 to 1972 and one of the most highly regarded priests in the Church of England.

Forder belonged to an older school of archdeacon which, before the onset of time-consuming administration, always saw its diocesan responsibilities through the eyes of the parish priest. His entire ministry was spent in the north of England, where he was responsible for tough parishes in Bradford and Hull before moving to York, where Archbishop Donald Coggan described him as "the wisest man in the diocese".

Forder's insights and commitment were expressed in The Parish Priest at Work (1947), which for almost two decades was the standard manual for newly-ordained clergy; it was also valued by many others who turned to it for advice on tricky pastoral problems. No detail of parish life was neglected from the conduct of worship and preaching to the running of a bazaar and the provision of soap and running water in the vestry. More than 20,000 copies were sold and a revised edition appeared in 1959. Its basic approach to parish work is not yet outdated.

A dedicated and sensitive pastor, Forder was of quiet disposition, yet he had an acute mind and was powerful in the pulpit. As might be anticipated, he was also a superb trainer of curates, though he had to sack one of them for attempted bigamy.

Charles Robert Forder was born in Norfolk on January 6 1907, the son of a blacksmith. He attended North Walsham Grammar School, from where he went to Christ's College, Cambridge, taking a First in Part I of the Mathematics tripos and becoming Senior Optime in Part II. The possibility of a brilliant scientific career was, however, overtaken by a call to Holy Orders, and he went to Ridley Hall, Cambridge, to prepare for ordination.

He was ordained in 1930 and began what turned out to be 78 years in the priesthood with two curacies in Leeds, followed by six years as vicar of Holy Trinity, Wibsey, in Bradford. He was vicar of St Clement's, Bradford, from 1940 to 1947, and during his last two years there was organising secretary of the Bradford Church Movement Forward Appeal, which raised money to meet the challenges of the immediate post-war era.

Forder then spent eight years as vicar of Drypool, Hull, taking in responsibility for a neighbouring church for three years and serving for three years as chaplain of Hull Prison, then of the local Borstal.

In 1954, however, he became secretary of the York Diocesan Church Building Appeal, a major responsibility which he shouldered for the next 22 years; it involved raising a large sum of money for the rebuilding of war-damaged churches, mainly in Hull, and building the many new churches required for new housing developments.

This required him to move, in 1955, to the small East Riding parish of Routh with Wawne, where he remained until his appointment by Archbishop Michael Ramsey as Archdeacon of York and a canon of York Minster. None the less, he continued as a parish priest, being also rector of Sutton-on-Derwent from 1957 to 1963, then rector of Holy Trinity with St John, St Martin and St Gregory, Micklegate, in the city of York until 1966. He finally retired in 1972.

Forder was elected to the Church Assembly in 1954 and played an important part in the initiating of synodical government in 1970, without realising the degree of distraction from traditional pastoral ministry that this would eventually involve. Both his Synods in Action (1970) and Churchwardens in Church and Parish (1976) were designed to encourage greater involvement by the laity in the life of the Church. As a Church Commissioner from 1958 to 1973, he insisted that the financial support of the parishes be the highest priority.

Charles Forder's wife, Myra, predeceased him. There were no children of the marriage. <.h3>

This article celebrating Revd Forder's 100th birthday is from the the Diocese of York website 3/01/07

Archbishop's congratulations on 100 years for Yorkshire priest

The Venerable Charles Forder, a priest of the Church of England in Yorkshire for 76 years, celebrates his 100th birthday at his home in Scarborough on Saturday 6th January 2007.

Born in Norfolk in 1907, Charles Forder studied at Christ Church and then Ridley Hall, Cambridge, before being ordained a deacon in 1930 and a priest in 1931. He served as Curate of St Peter's, Hunslet Moor, Leeds until 1933; and then moved to be Curate of Burley, Leeds, from 1933. In 1933 he became Vicar of Wibsey, Bradford, until 1940, moving to be Vicar of St Clement's, Bradford until 1947. He then moved to the Diocese of York to be Vicar of St Andrew and St Peter, Drypool, Hull, until 1955, also serving as Chaplain to HM Prison, Hull, from 1949 to 1951, and then to HM Borstal, Hull from 1951 to 1952. In 1955 Charles Forder moved out of Hull to become Rector of Routh and Vicar of Wawne (near Beverley) until 1957 when he was appointed Archdeacon of York.

The Archdeacon of York is a senior figure responsible for the care and discipline of clergy, overseeing the proper running and maintenance of churches, and undertaking much administrative and legal work within the Archdeaconry of York, which includes the City itself and is roughly bounded by Tadcaster, Selby, Market Weighton, Stamford Bridge, Malton and Easingwold. It includes about 200 churches. As Archdeacon, Charles Forder's title changed from "The Reverend" to "The Venerable", and as he took up the reins he also became Rector of Sutton-upon-Derwent from 1957 to 1963, and then Rector of Holy Trinity, Micklegate, York, from 1963 until his retirement in 1972 at the age of 65. He became a Canon of York Minster in 1957 and has been a Canon Emeritus since 1976.

The late Canon John Norman, Rector of Dunnington from 1961 to 1972, spoke in 2001 of his friend Charles Forder as, "A friendly, charming man: gentle and a delight to work with." Canon Norman still had his copy of Charles Forder's authoritative and comprehensive book, "The Work of a Parish Priest", first published in 1941 and revised and reprinted several times. He commented on Archdeacon Forder's ability as an organiser, his comprehensive understanding of church administration (he was influential after the war in the Church Assembly, and one of the architects of its successor, the Church of England General Synod), and his immaculate study and dress-sense! Charles Forder also wrote a booklet entitled "Synods in Action" to co-incide with the introduction of the Synodical structures in the Church of England in 1970.

On Charles Forder's 100th birthday, Saturday 6th January 2006, he will receive the traditional message of congratulation from HM The Queen, and will be visited at his home in Dulverton Hall, Scarborough (a retirement home run by the Church of England Pensions Board) by relatives and friends from Norfolk and elsewhere. The Bishop of Hull, the Right Reverend Richard Frith, will celebrate the Eucharist in the chapel at Dulverton Hall, assisted (at Charles Forder's suggestion) by the present Archdeacon of York, the Venerable Richard Seed. A reception after the service will be followed by a private lunch party.

Archdeacon Forder's guests will, remarkably, include his 86-year-old successor as Archdeacon of York, the Venerable Leslie Stanbridge (1972 - 1988); his 75-year-old successor as Archdeacon of York, the Venerable George Austin (1988 - 1999); and the present Archdeacon of York, the Venerable Richard Seed. Richard Seed follows Charles Forder not only as Archdeacon of York, but also as Rector of Holy Trinity, Micklegate, York. It is unique and thought to be unprecedented in the Church of England for four successive holders of the same senior post to be able to celebrate the centenary of one of their number together!

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said, "Charles Forder's life and ministry have been a great blessing to the Church and those with whom he has lived and worked. As an Archdeacon, a writer, and an influential member of the Church Assembly, he freely shared the wisdom and experience he gained as a parish priest, and I know that many will join me in giving thanks for his long service to Jesus Christ and his people. I wish Charles a very happy hundredth birthday, and pray that he will continue to enjoy good health, the company of those around him, and the love of God whom he has served so faithfully for so long. It is fitting that Charles' birthday falls on the day of Epiphany. Charles had the wisdom of the wise men to seek Christ. On this feast of epiphany may the great light of Christ shine on all who are gathered to celebrate his long life."


For further information contact Martin Sheppard, Diocesan Communications Officer, on York (01904) 699530.

* Below is a Debating Society report from a 1925 Paston School magazine - this was the local grammar school to which Charles Forder won a scholarship from the village school. He was right about the fall of the Empire, though whether he was right about the cause could be debated further.

"On February 16 the motion was that wireless and crossword puzzles are signs of degeneracy of the British race.

Mr Gillion proposing, said people had behaved like sheep over wireless. They displayed curiosity to the extent of weakness. They kept late hours, had no discretion, spoilt the countryside and neglected churches because of it.

Mr Mayes, replying, declared that wireless was the greatest discovery ever made, and that opposition was rank Conservatism. Classical music was broadcast and instilled good taste; crosswords developed the mind and taught miscreants to spell.

Mr Ling, who seconded, thought both wasted time. The music was not always good and the puzzles were silly. He urged the adoption of chess and mathematical problems as alternatives. Mr Golden, opposing, said they were no more crazes than were bicycles. They were educational and within the reach of everybody. He pointed out that the ugly outdoor aerials were not essential. Mr Forder remarked that they would cause future degeneracy. Wireless was not educative for no mathematics, not even Pythagoras, was broadcasted. Wireless caused idleness and indulgence and was expected to do everybody's manual work in the future.

Crosswords, he explained, were now used as propaganda by the Conservative press. He expected the fall of the Empire because of this corruption.

Mr Walton said the greatest joy in wireless was the construction of sets, and Mr Belson thought chimney pots were as ugly as aerials. Mr Smart said their improper use was a cause of degeneracy.

Messrs Walmsley and Cox brought to mind the use of wireless at sea. Mr Gotts suggested that a time would come when even Pythagoras would be broadcasted, and Mr Tusting insinuated that Mr Forder would not object to his bicycle being brought to school by wireless.

Mr Gillion admitted that wireless was useful, but pointed out that it had become a degenerate craze. The motion was lost by 60 votes to four."