Pastor Harry Waite was called into the Lord’s presence on 19 August, aged 91.
He was one of those men who came under the influence of Doctor Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel during the 1940s and 1950s and embraced Reformed doctrines in a way that characterised his preaching throughout his long ministry.
Mr Waite was the son of a Baptist minister in London, but on his own admission did not respond to the gospel, which he heard each week from his father, until he was in his 20s. After school, he had various jobs and served in the RAF during the Second World War.
Having come to faith and been taught scriptural truths at Westminster Chapel’s Friday evening Bible studies, he joined the London City Mission in 1949, working in King’s Cross and Walthamstow in north-east London.
It was while working as a missioner at Walthamstow Central Baptist Church that he was invited to preach at Thornton Heath Evangelical Church, the previous pastor at Thornton Heath having become pastor at Walthamstow.
There was an immediate and warm response from the membership at Thornton Heath, and a unanimous call was extended to Mr Waite to become pastor, a role he took up in 1959.
His 34-year ministry at Thornton Heath was marked by systematic Bible exposition with powerful gospel calls and clear teaching of the truth. During those years, many were converted and the church maintained a strong missionary interest.
In particular, Mr Waite had a great interest in revivals in church history and called on the congregation to pray for the Lord to pour out his blessing afresh.
A plaque was fixed on the pulpit with Richard Baxter’s words, ‘I preach as never sure to preach again, as a dying man to dying men’. This surely summed up Pastor Waite’s motivation and commitment.
When Mr Waite left the pastorate at Thornton Heath in 1993, he moved to Bournemouth and continued in active ministry, preaching the same message that had gripped him and been the joy of his life.
Mr Waite’s brother, John, was principal of South Wales Bible College and later pastor of Wycliffe Independent Church, Sheffield. Together they influenced many men preparing for pastoral and preaching ministry, and their legacy continues with those now declaring the same message of redeeming love.
Mr Waite married Hazel in 1952 and she proved a tower of strength to him throughout his many years of faithful service. He and his wife moved to Pilgrim Homes in Tunbridge Wells earlier this year. They have three children and four grandchildren.