Tributes paid to Canon John Bentham

A large congregation from near and far attended St Mary’s, Nottingham, for the Service of Thanksgiving for the life and ministry of Canon John Bentham who died on 6 August after a period in hospital.

It was proof, if any was needed, of the high esteem in which John was held by fellow-clerics and lay people, writes Colin Slater.

Both our Bishops, the Dean of Southwell, the Diocesan Registrar, the Archdeacon of Nottingham and the Diocesan Chief Executive were all present, as was Bishop Peter Hill, Bishop of Barking and former Archdeacon of Nottingham and Chief Executive of the Diocese.

St Saviours, Nottingham, where John was incumbent for eight years between 1990 and 1998, was represented by several members of the church to which he was appointed after serving two curacies in the Leeds area.

It meant him returning to Nottingham where he had trained for the ministry at St John’s College whose representatives included Canon Dr Christina Baxter (former Principal) and Dr Stephen Travis (former Vice-Principal and author). Fellow-students from those years (1982-1985) were also present.

The service was led by Adrian Stone, whose friendship with John dates from when he was a member of St Saviours. John encouraged him to think about ordination for which he also trained at St John’s from 2001 to 2003. “John inspired all of us,” he said, also recalling that John and Marianne, whom he later married, first met at the Greenbelt Festival.

Moving tributes to John were paid by his daughter, Alice Maxim, on behalf of the family; Sarah Sharples, Pro Vice-Chancellor on behalf of the University of Nottingham, where John was chaplain from 1998 until the time of his death; and Bishop Tony Porter, on behalf of the Diocese.

The Pro Vice-Chancellor spoke of  the great contribution John made to the life of the University, greatly valued by both staff and students.

Bishop Tony said that both Bishop Paul and he thought very highly of John’s ministry, which included several years’ service on Bishop’s Council while he was University chaplain. “More importantly”, he added, “we both also thought very highly of John as a fine person”.

The address was given by Canon Steve Silvester, Rector of St Nic’s, Nottingham, who recalled that he and John had served as trustees of Malt Cross through which the scheme of Street Pastors was founded, making a significant contribution to the night-time economy of the city.