Michael John Baxter
(1941 – 2007)
Mike grew up in Redcar and became a Christian at 13 years old. After leaving school he studied accountancy and moved to York where he worked for the Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust. It was while here that he was led into a career of social work, initially as a children’s officer in Doncaster. He also met Jenny, who was to become his wife in 1969.
They lived and worked in Doncaster until 1974, and then relocated and became members of Pontefract Congregational Church.
Mike became a young people’s leader in the Pontefract Church. This was followed by service in the diaconate and then eldership. He became church administrator on taking early retirement in 1997.
In his secular work Mike eventually held a senior social work position, but when applying for theological training in 1985 he wrote: ‘I became aware that social work has only a limited effect on people’s lives.
‘A new life only comes through Christ – and a town or nation will not be changed by social work or politics. Only spiritual revival will do that. Certainly, social work or politics will save no one from hell.
‘I believe that sinners cannot be reached without the gospel, and the gospel is not given without preaching … I believe God is sending me to preach, and I look forward in God’s strength to opportunities life presents’.
After completing 4 years training at Bryntirion, Mike continued to support the wider church through preaching and also through child protection study days for churches across the country.
From 1993-1996 Mike Baxter was moderator at Rotherham, and then in 2001was called to its pastorate.
Rev. Bill Dyer, in his tribute at the funeral, recognised Mike’s very special qualities, but knew he would have been embarrassed by such recognition, as ‘a sinner saved by grace’.