Dear Friends,
It is with some considerable sadness that we acknowledge the death of Revd. Rd. Dr. Brian Beck, a former President of Conference, Secretary of Conference, Principal of Wesley House and a friend and wise mentor to many! Over the next few days and weeks, many of his achievements and accolades, will be told and retold, as we give thanks for his indelible contribution to British Methodism and the wider Methodist family across the globe. However, during this period of thanksgiving we should not lose sight of the fact that Brian was a wonderful human being. A man who combined scholarship with humility, intelligence with grace and a disarming and dry sense of humour that could alleviate moments of tension very effectively.

A personal story at this point will exemplify his great qualities and his pastoral heart. In 1997, whilst a probationer minister in the Long Eaton Circuit, my first wife Regina died of breast cancer at the tender age of thirty. It was quite simply a devastating loss for a young minister. Two days after she died, I received a hand-written letter from the, then, Secretary of Conference, Brian Beck, expressing his deep sadness and assuring me of his continuing prayerful concern. To this day, I have never forgotten this extraordinary act of human kindness from a senior leader in the Church – at one level the letter is quite simple, but it so clearly comes from a generous, compassionate, and wise spirit.

I am part of that generation of presbyters (1995) who lived under the wise and benevolent oversight of Brian’s term as Secretary of Conference, and he has been a constant inspiratuon for what the best of the Methodist tradition can become when it takes hold of the life and spirituality of an ordinary human being. In 1993 Brian served as the President of the British Methodist Conference, chairing the difficult debate on human sexuality with great wisdom and patience, which resulted in the six resolutions that for more than twenty years held the church together across deep differences.

Over the last nine years it has been a great privilege to know Brian as a retired colleague residing in the Cambridge Circuit in the East Anglia District and to be his District Chair. Without fail, Brian has offered me kindness, concern, wisdom, and friendship and for those qualities I am hugely grateful. Like many of you, lay and ordained, I am deeply grateful that my pathway in life included knowing the colleagueship of Revd. Dr. Brian Beck. I end with some words from Charles Wesley which I am sure he would approve of!

“Why hast thou cast our lot
in the same age and place,
and why together brought
to see each other’s face,
to join with loving sympathy,
and mix our friendly souls in thee?”

With very best wishes,