Donald Barnes - a further tribute

by Claire Wilson, former curate of Donald's from 1998 - 2006

from Signs of the Times, No. 43 - Oct 2011

Both Donald and Sally have been closely involved in the process leading up to women's ordination to the priesthood. Donald was one of the first to join MOW, and Margaret Webster remembers him in those early days as an excellent strategist and an accurate predictor of outcomes. He was a faithful attender at all events, whether it was a coffee morning or a march along Whitehall!

Donald provided an anchor at many moments when the heaving seas of controversy and fierce debate might have caused hearts to fail. At one meeting I recall a young member of MOW announcing that she had given up on the Church of England and was planning to make a dramatic exit, leaving the world in no doubt about the reasons for her rage and frustration. Donald responded calmly that she was certainly within her rights to do just that. "But you realise of course" he added, "that you can only leave once". (This piece of wisdom ties in with what Victor Stock famously said on another public occasion: "While some people threatened to leave the church in times of turmoil, Donald always threatened to stay".)

During his ten years as a member of General Synod Donald listened, chose his words carefully and made his point unambiguously. He also provided encouragement to many supporters of women's ordination who might otherwise have become disheartened, one of whom describes him as "a loving and courageous man, a true prophet and priest".

Lastly, I speak with feeling because Donald was my training incumbent at St Peter's, Belsize Park. I was one of several Edmonton Area women ordained to the diaconate in St Paul's Cathedral on that memorable day in 1987. Under Donald's guidance St Peter's became a joyfully inclusive (and sometimes seriously unconventional!) environment where all could flourish whatever their status, background or gender.

On learning of Donald's death, a senior clergyman and his wife wrote to Sally as follows: "His role and influence in the lives of so many of us is his gift to the church and specially to this diocese".

Donald has indeed played a key part in encouraging the church to take a major step of faith. The future is in God's hands----and ours.

Rest in peace, Donald, your work done.