Rev. G. A. Hemming (1915-2009)
George Hemming was born in Ports-mouth in 1915. He studied in Southampton before serving in the army during WW2. This included a period in India, which led to his continuing concern for Christian work there.
After the war, he began pastoral ministry at Low Row Congregational Church, Swaledale, and the following year became minister of the Congregational church in the neighbouring village of Reeth. This first period of ministry in the dales concluded in 1952, when he moved to Leigh-on-Sea.
From 1959-1965 he served as assistant to Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel, and from 1965-1983 pastored FIEC churches in Kenton and Hounslow West. Later he served as General Director of the International Christian Fellowship.
Mr Hemming’s retirement to Swaledale was to be short-lived. When Rev. John Legg moved to Shrewsbury in the 1980s, George Hemming became minister of Reeth Congregational Church for the second time. He finally retired in 1999, although he continued to preach until 2004.
When Mr Hemming resumed the Reeth pastorate, the church’s prospects seemed bleak. Its handful of members were all past retirement age and many younger people had left the area to find work.
It might have been imagined that his role would be to bury the remaining members and put up a ‘For sale’ sign on the church door. However, he had a strong conviction that this would not be the case. There was steady growth during his ministry, so that in 2002 the members were able to call Rev. David Gregson as the next minister of the church.
George Hemming loved children and often used visual aids to make his point. On one memorable occasion he borrowed a live snake to illustrate the serpent being lifted up in the wilderness!
He was also concerned to spend time with his young family. If asked for a preaching engagement on a Friday evening he would say he already had a prior engagement in his diary. That engagement was a fish supper with his family!
One of the last sermons he preached, in 2004, was on ‘that other realm’. Heaven was in George Hemming, long before he was in heaven. He died peacefully in his sleep on 20 January. Just over a week later, friends from all over the country joined his family and the present congregation for a memorable thanksgiving service at Reeth, led by David Gregson.
Warm expository preaching, a deep pastoral concern, an emphasis on prayer and a concern for mission marked George’s ministry. Even when no longer able to attend public worship, he and his wife Nina continued to pray daily for the church in Reeth.
Our thoughts and prayers are with George’s widow and their family.