RATTENBURY, Harold Burgoyne (B.A.) 1878 - 1961

Obituary from the Minutes of the Methodist Conference 1962, page 198

 Born at Witney in 1878. He was the son, grandson, brother and father of Methodist ministers. After being trained at Headingley College, he went to China in 1902 and served in the Hupeh District until 1935. being for many years its Chairman. He was a General Secretary of the Missionary Society from 1935-50. and was President of the Conference in 1949. His whole ministry was identified with the Chinese people and was devoted to the task of building the Church amongst that great nation. He highly esteemed the qualities of the Chinese-their history, ideals and culture. With their suffering and sorrows he was also fully acquainted, for he shared in them both in his human sympathy and in the costly nature of his own missionary service. His active ministry coincided with a great period of creative missionary work in China, and in his service in the Hupeh District, and later as a General Secretary of the Missionary Society, he was a missionary statesman who helped to guide the growing Church, Not only did he leave his mark upon the Christian work in China, but China left its mark upon him. He acquired in his own nature part of that balanced paradox in grace and character, in gifts and traits, which is characteristic of the Chinese people. He appeared to be impassive yet there was within his heart a glowing fire. He seemed always to be unhurried ; yet he got through a great deal of work. He was by nature shy, sensitive and often withdrawn ; yet he delighted in people, had a great love for children, and had a deep understanding of men and women, and most of all of the Methodist people. He was remarkably patient ; yet underneath there was enormous drive and determination. Part of his greatness was in the balance between his wisdom and his simplicity. His personal religious life was founded on the Bible and prayer. A great missionary and a great missionary statesman, he was first of all a Methodist minister. Involved through the years in administration, he was at heart a pastor, and it was by his pastoral care that he helped to build the Methodist society and the new church at Oakwood during his retirement. His achievement  arose out of his dedication. concentration and faithful persevering through suffering. He did not believe that the Gospel could be proclaimed and the Church planted except by the acceptance of great suffering on the part of missionaries. He endured suffering himself.; he led or pushed others into it. He died on 24 December 1961, in the eighty-fourth year of his age and in the fifty-ninth year of his ministry. ©Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes 1962

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