The Revd Gerald (Gee) Christopher Hemp: 1953-2019
Missionary, minister and prison chaplain
Gerald Christopher Hemp was born in Chiswick, London and grew up in Slough. As an only child, his Mum encouraged him to socialise with his wider family and neighbours from a young age.
He was brought up to go to church and encouraged to join the Boys' Brigade and later became the Captain of the company. He could not pin point a time when he became a Christian but knew he had at the age of 17 and was baptised at Langley Free Church. He made many friends at this stage in his life - many of whom have kept in touch through the years.
It was whilst at school he earned the nickname Big Gee which is how most of us know him. He studied languages with business after school, and was training to be a cost accountant but his love for people led him to Probation Work in Slough and then Hemel Hempstead. One aspect of the work he particularly enjoyed was visiting clients in a variety of prisons!
Gee and Maggie met at a Baptist Missionary Society Summer School two years running. About 200 young people would take over a boarding school in the summer for a fortnight. Although many women through the years have commented on his blue eyes, it was Gee's love of God and sense of humour which attracted Maggie. They were married in 1977 and visited a Summer School and a BB camp on honeymoon - and also listened to a test match!
Not surprisingly, they became missionaries with the Baptist Missionary Society and went to Brazil as houseparents, looking after the children of other missionaries. Gee loved working in Brazil. It was there he felt called to be a minister and after four and a half years returned to the UK to train, fully expecting to go back to Brazil.
Naomi was born soon after he started college. He was a loving and proud father, although not very hands on! The number of nappies he changed could be counted on one hand! He struggled with reading and essay writing at college, and with having to get to prayers early in the morning. He is remembered by his colleagues, though, for leading prayers one morning and quoting his favourite scripture with too much emphasis: Be still and know that I am God!
Despite his struggles, he was the first of his year to be called to a church. God did not call him back to Brazil but rather to a Home Mission Church in Taunton - Halcon Baptist Church. Miriam was born at this time and added to his joy.
After a very happy seven years, Gee felt called to Limbury Baptist Church in Luton and five years later moved on to be a Prison Chaplain at Stoke Heath. He loved the pastoral work he did there and was able to support both staff and prisoners alike. The fact that he was so loved at the prison is seen today (and by the honour guard given to him.)
Following retirement, Gee continued to use his pastoral gifts at Barnabas Community Church. He was so pleased to have joined the church family the Sunday just before his death.
He loved spending time with friends - eating meals, playing canasta and watching cricket. Several friends comment on the football banter and his cheeky sense of humour. We won't mention his passion for Chelsea!
Above all, Gee was a family man. He was very proud as a father to walk first Naomi and then Miriam up the aisle. He embraced their husbands as sons and was delighted to be a grandfather to Ben, Ava and Jacob. He and Maggie enjoyed over 42 years of married life which was rich in love and gave each of them a stable base from which they could reach out to others.
A Service of Celebration for the life of the Revd Gerald (Gee) Hemp, former minister of Halcon Baptist Church, Limbury Baptist Church, and Prison Chaplain at Stoke Heath, takes place on Friday October 4 at 11:00 am at Barnabas Community Church, Longden Coleham, Shrewsbury.