NOBLE, Walter James (D.D.) 1879 - 1962

Obituary from the Minutes of the Methodist Conference 1962, page 209

Born at Darlington in 1879. Throughout his life he remembered with gratitude the privilege of being brought up in a Christian home, and cherished the recollection of the background of his early days, where honesty, thrift, self-discipline and hard work had a primary place in Christian piety.

He became a candidate for the Ministry at the age of nineteen, and sailed for Ceylon in September 1900. The whole of his active ministry was spent in the service of the Missionary Society. He served for twenty-two years in Ceylon, and for twenty-five years was a General Secretary of the Missionary Society, being Chairman of the Officers’ Meeting for thirteen years.

His service to the whole missionary movement was distinguished and remarkable. In field administration he always grasped the salient features of a situation. He was constant in promoting indigenous leadership, and discerning in the choice of leaders. His care of men was such that, whatever his responsibilities and burdens, he made each man who came to see him on furlough feel that the whole, unhurried attention of his Field Secretary was given to him.

As a missionary advocate, both in Conference and ‘in the country, he was unsurpassed. He was a speaker and writer of quite exceptional power, and few could state a case with such lucidity, cogency and persuasiveness. He led divine worship with dignity and grace, and there are many who will never forget the B.B.C. epilogue he conducted on the occasion of the passing of King George VI.

He was a member of Conference for thirty-two years, and his gifts of administration brought his clear mind and ardent spirit into the counsels of the Connexion.

He was President of the Conference in 1942.

He thought, worked and acted with astonishing speed. As chairman of a committee he was supreme, and could guide it surely along the road to its destination well before the committee itself knew where it was going. His mind was always several steps ahead; his intense penetration discovered what was essential ; his aptness of speech beckoned the way forward.

In his personality, he revealed dignity and neatness ; in his approach to situations, directness and simplicity ; in his work, speed. grace and finish. He lived in the contentment of whose who walk where true joys may be found. and in his bearing and his work he reflected to his companions something of the light and purity, the goodness and radiance, which belong to the sons of the most High.

He was a zealous and tireless worker, always actively engaged in the Christian warfare. Whatever the state of his health, and often it was far from good. he was to be found in the heat of the battle.

It was symbolic of his active spirit that on the last day of his earthly life he attended a committee in London, and passed away without warning soon after his return home.

He died on 21 February 1962, in the eighty-fourth year of his age and the sixty-second of his ministry.

©Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes 1962

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