Henry Frederick Ross Catherwood: passes to his reward
Sir Henry Frederick Ross Catherwood passed away peacefully at the age of 89 on Sunday, November 30, 2014, but leaves behind a tremendous legacy, especially for the Evangelicals in the UK, reports Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries.
Sir Fred Catherwood, as he was mostly known, was the son-in-law of the great preacher, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who retired from his ministry at Westminster Chapel, the independent evangelical church in central London, in 1968, after almost 30 years as its minister. Dr. Lloyd-Jones was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British Evangelical movement in the 20th.
In 1954, Catherwood married Elizabeth, the elder daughter of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. He was an accountant and businessman who in 1979 became one of the first UK Conservatives to be elected to the European Parliament in Brussels.
For many years, Sir Fred Catherwood ran weekly Bible classes at Westminster Chapel.
According to The Guardian newspaper, “He was born on the family farm near Magherafelt in County Derry, to Stuart, a successful businessman who founded and ran a bus company with routes across Ireland, and his wife, Jean. The family later moved to Belfast.
“Catherwood was educated at Shrewsbury school and Clare College, Cambridge, where he read history and then law. Any ambitions he might have had towards ordination – he had been vice-president of the Intercollegiate Christian Union – were sublimated at his father’s insistence that he should become an accountant instead.”
Photo via assistnews.net
Amaris Cole, Editor at the Evangelical Alliance UK described Sir Fred, the former president of the organization, as a “pioneer in the faith at work movement.”
“Sir Fred Catherwood, who gave up his seat as MEP for Cambridge and North Bedfordshire in 1993 to continue being the Alliance's president full-time, spearheaded the campaign to join evangelical churches together in a social action network,” said Cole.
Peter Lynas, director of the Northern Ireland Evangelical Alliance, said: “Sir Fred Catherwood was a great Northern Irish export and pioneer of the faith at work movement, who will be sadly missed.”
Cole went on to say that Sir Fred devoted his time to encouraging evangelicals to be effective in their social care and evangelism, particularly in inner-cities.
“The former vice president of the European Parliament had a love for politics, but recognized that the Church was closer to the ‘human wreckage of today's society,” added Cole.
“When he left politics he toured the country speaking in churches, as President of the Alliance, with the aim of encouraging them to join together and to encourage them to carry out vital community care.”
Sir Fred said: “Evangelical churches and organizations are facing much of the human wreckage of today's society. They are dealing with the traumas of wrecked marriages, reaching out to teenagers who have been abandoned by their families. I want to help them help each other in this vital work.”
Mike Talbot, the Alliance's current chair of the board, expressed his sorrow in the news of Sir Fred's death.
He said: “He had a passion for integrating his faith with the public square. That faith was deeply rooted in scripture, and in a love for his Lord –and that shaped all that he did in a significant life of public service.”
Sir Fred saw his purpose in life very clearly: “We're all given gifts by God and we're told to multiply our talents. We're here for a limited amount of time to do the best of our ability.”
Besides his work with Evangelical Alliance UK, Sir Fred gave more than 45 years of service to International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), which he helped to found.
Penny Vinden wrote on ifesworld.org website, “Sir Fred held senior offices in both IFES and UCCF: The Christian Unions in Britain, from 1961 to 2007.
“He and Elizabeth are remembered by many as the hosts of IFES house parties from 1974-1986 at Schloss Mittersill, a castle in the Austrian alps. From 1991 they also hosted the Schloss international Graduates' Conference,” said Vinden. “Each of these gatherings would draw participants from about 25 nations in both eastern and western Europe. These conferences proved of particular importance as Eastern Europe began to open up.”
Kirsty Thorburn, who works at the IFES International Service Centre, remembers the Catherwoods from her student days, saying, “The most striking memory I have of Sir Fred is watching him in a discussion and thinking, ‘Here is a member of the European parliament sitting talking about politics from a Christian perspective with students from communist Eastern Europe.’ What an amazing experience for those students!
“They were wonderful hosts together, first as the house parents at the Schloss, then as the grandparents at many IFES events - even into their 80s they were enthusiastically attending conferences and actively being part of the Fellowship.”
Sir Fred Catherwood, who was knighted in 1971, is survived by Lady Elizabeth, their two sons, Christopher and Jonathan, daughter, Bethan, and five grandchildren.