Saturday, 20 July 2024

Rev Basil Rogers (1936-2023)

Basil was born on 27th April 1936 and 87 years of hard work, service, love and a lot of laughter began. Born to Charles and Edith and with a brother Alan in Tisbury Wiltshire, he attended Gillingham Grammar School.

Baz worked hard at school, kept his head down and enjoyed school, and achieved A grade qualifications in Mathematics and Physics. Somewhat of a surprise to everyone was to find that he passed a qualification in mechanics, which is strange, for anyone who knew Basil they would know that he didn't know one end of a spanner to the other.

On 10th July 1957 he achieved his Bachelor of Science degree from Bristol University. And then on the 11th August 1962 Basil and Diana were married in Fovant Chapel. Not long after, Cheralyn and Stuart came along. Sadly, Diana died in 2004.

Baz's teaching career at Hengrove School spanned many years. Mathematics was his chosen subject during which time he taught several well-known Bristol City players and even helped the great footballer John Atyeo retrain as a teacher. Later he was to become a respected deputy head and in his last year he acted up as head.

At some point he managed to squeeze in a year of National Service based in Germany. One thing that many people remember him for is his unwavering support of the Boys Brigade over many years as chaplain and regular attendee at Battalion camps. Baz also loved playing cricket.

In his early fifties, the opportunity presented itself to take early retirement from a teaching career. And on 6th July 1984 he was ordained into the United Reformed Church to become an auxiliary minister. He was to later become a non-stipendiary minister at Whitfield URC and was later instrumental in merging this together with the Moravian Church to form the United Church, Kingswood. He would later go on to be a faithful servant to other Moravian Churches, not least in Bath, not forgetting that along the way he spent periods helping URC churches in Thornbury, Argyle Morley and Bedminster to name a few.

Throughout Baz's life, as well as being a lay preacher, an ordained minister, an elder and all-round solid servant to the Church, perhaps his greatest service was in taking funerals. He took this role very seriously and delivered extremely personalised services. The funeral directors were especially grateful to him as he occasionally conducted as many as seven funerals in one day. He worked until he was 83 years old.

Baz was incredibly generous, both with his time and his resources. He loved to take the wider family on holidays. It was not unusual for all 11 family members to visit different parts of the world. The family built up a special affinity with the Gambia, helping a local family to establish a tour company. Baz even bought them a land rover.

A huge part of Basil Rogers' personality was his humour. The absolute master of funny faces. When he laughed, his whole body laughed. When he sang, the whole world heard him and sang with him. When he preached, everybody listened. When he prayed, everybody was blessed.

The reading chosen for Baz's funeral was Matthew 25:13-46. This parable of the three servants showed many of Baz's attributes very well. Baz didn't bury his good works, he stepped out of his comfort zone. He reached out to help people, to show them the face of Christ. Baz was bold and brave and cared deeply for all he met. Baz was a good and faithful servant.

Throughout the parable of the sheep and the goats we hear the phrase, 'whenever you did (or didn't) do this for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you did (or didn't) do it for me'. To serve one another is indeed to serve God, because each of us is made in God's image. This parable describes the two great commandments: love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength; and love your neighbour as you love yourself.

There is only one message here, the commandment to love, and real love is always shown in action. That is something that Baz did in spades. He served and loved without asking for anything in return.

He loved his family, his friends, his students, his congregations. He would go out of his way and step out of his comfort zone to show the love of Jesus.

Love in action, that is how one would describe Baz, thank you for showing us how to love.

Stuart Rogers (son) and
Sr Lorraine Shorten
(Minister at Bath Weston and Bath Coronation Avenue Moravian Churches)

Br Basil was a wonderful example of an honest and upright Christian gentleman. I first met Basil in his role as the Deputy Head of a school which, in the early 1980s, was considered 'progressive'. He was an impressive figure long before he became a Moravian Minister, a colleague, and a friend. Basil reached out with a friendly hand. He drew people in. He was a thoroughly likeable person. We smiled together when he shared that he wasn't a native of Somerset which was an adopted county for both of us. Basil was at home wherever he hung his hat, and, of course, he hung it firmly on a Moravian peg.

Basil and I shared a firm commitment to Ecumenism. It came from the moving of the Holy Spirit in our ministries. Living and working in Kingswood, Bristol we were aware of the work of men like Whitefield, Wesley and Cennick. They were our inspiration, and Basil was an inspiring man. Basil and I both believed that there was a genuine movement of God's Spirit at that time, and it was about exploring the needs of declining congregations in the UK when there was growth in the Church world-wide. Surely the real meaning of Oecumenical?

Now we, who knew him, have lost Basil. And those of you who are reading this, who didn't know him, now know that you have been deprived of fellowshipping with a truly good man.

Basil Rogers transcended denominational boundaries and their nomenclature. He was a man of God and for a few short years he was my friend. Thanks Basil, it's been a pleasure and a privilege knowing you.

Br Trevor Auty

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