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Three generations of ministers 

With his retirement this September, Philip Webb brings to a close a remarkable Baptist family ministry spanning almost a century

When Philip was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1974, he was following in the footsteps of both his father Horace Webb and grandfather Albert Frank Webb.

Webb1 250
Albert Webb with wife Annie and young sons Horace and Bert

Albert was born in Bristol in 1884. Baptised and later married in East Street Baptist Church, Bedminster, in 1918 he took up the pastorate of Old Sodbury, Little Sodbury, Yate Rocks and Sherston Baptist churches.

He subsequently moved to the pastorate of Stapleton Baptist Church in 1923, and from there to Radstock Baptist Church in 1938. His last pastorate was at Quorn, in Leicestershire, from 1942.

By the time Albert retired in 1947 his son Horace had become the pastor of Hillfields Park, Bristol.

Subsequent pastorates followed at West End Baptist Church, Westbury (1951-56), Saffron Walden (1956-68) and Wellington, Somerset (1968-76) with a couple of years thereafter in a retirement pastorate at Sherborne Baptist Church.

And so Philip, born in Bristol to Horace and Lillian, in due course entered the Baptist ministry. July marked the 40th anniversary of his ordination.

Did he know from an early age that he wanted to become a Baptist minister? ‘No!’ he states. ‘Following a family tradition would have been the worst of reasons for going into ministry.

'I tried very hard not to, but God's call, while I was reading for a Physics degree at Exeter University, ultimately proved irresistible.’

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The Revd Horace Webb

Philip's first pastorate was at Victoria Park, Bristol. From 1980 he worked for the Baptist Union as Secretary of the Lay Preacher’s Federation and the Christian Training Programme (while also working regularly as a freelance artist for The Baptist Times). He was called from this in 1984 to the pastorate of Dagnall Street, St Albans.

His third pastorate was in Knightrider Street, Maidstone, from 1989 to 2001, during which time his wife Jane was also ordained to the Baptist ministry.

Their final move so far was to Derbyshire when Philip was called to be County Ecumenical Development Officer for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and Jane accepted a call to Hill Street, Swadlincote.

By the time Philip retired in September of this year he had also served four further years in a similar ecumenical role in Staffordshire and the Black Country.

Philip Jane Webb
The Revd Philip Webb with wife Jane, also a Baptist minister

When the churches of that area staged a farewell service it was noted that this was the conclusion of 96 years of consecutive Baptist ministry by these three generations.

'It has been an incredible privilege for us all to serve God over these many years in so many ways and in such a variety of situations, local, regional and national,’ Philip says.

'I am very grateful to all those who have encouraged me and worked with me along the way, and most especially thank God for all the wonderful things we have all seen in His service.’

He adds, ‘Stipends may end, but God’s calling never does, so I am sure that there will still be many opportunities to serve him in different ways.

'But in the mean time our first grandchild is due to be born in early October, so that may be our next vocation!'

Becky Hardiman, administrator for the East Midlands Baptist Association, said, 'As an EMBA we wish Philip and his wife Jane a very blessed retirement, though we're sure we'll see plenty of them!' 

Baptist Times, 30/09/2014
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