Arthur Stone (1924-2008)
Arthur Stone entered into God’s presence on 10 December 2008. Born in Hartlepool, his father was minister of Thornton Street Baptist Chapel.
When war came, like many of his generation, with the help of dad’s ‘borrowed’ trench coat and trilby, he lied about his age and signed up with the Durham Light Infantry.
He was involved in the Normandy landings and after 10 days of non-stop fighting collapsed and was invalided out of the war zone with shell shock.
On return he married Muriel. She would be his lifelong partner and a vital member of a team that God would use mightily. Not long after, Carol and Norman were born. Arthur’s first pastorate was in Hartlepool at Thornton Street. This was followed by pastorates at Warboys (Huntingdon), Thornhill (West Yorkshire), and Bradfield and Rougham Baptist Church, near Bury St. Edmunds.
A sudden stroke just before retirement age brought him back to his hometown of Hartlepool, where after his health recovered he preached regularly again. He lived his last six years near Glasgow, where he continued preaching and writing articles until shortly before his death.
His was an exceptional ministry, not only because the churches to which he went clearly grew and prospered, but because growth was mainly through conversions. With Arthur one outstanding characteristic was that he allowed faith to lead. He had total confidence in Christ and the power of the gospel.
This was illustrated by his willingness to leave a successful work at Warboys to head north and help tiny churches in West Yorkshire. On the face of it the move did not make sense, and many tried to persuade him not to.
His son Norman comments, ‘Dad, however was totally persuaded and we all duly de-camped from our happy home and drove north in a borrowed van into a very uncertain future’. Arthur did not even know which church he would go to, but got himself a job with W. H. Smith, eventually settling at Thornhill where he began telling people the gospel.
Through open air evangelism (always a priority with him), a regular outreach magazine of excellent quality, and lots of visiting, God began saving people.
What can we learn from someone who when called to go to a place obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going? It is that God honours those who live by faith. As it was with Abraham, so it was with Arthur.