Page 6 - Moravian Messenger - January 2022
P. 6

Br Geoffrey Stokell (1930-2021)
The first time I met Geoffrey Stokell was at Summer School when he he he and his wife Madeleine came to to talk to to the participants about about their work in Tanzania I must have been about about 12 years old but I recall being very impressed at at what they had been doing in in that far away land My next recollections of of Br Geoffrey are from various Synods down the years and my fondest memories of those encounters were his smile and infectiously positive personality I I know that I I am not alone in in being captivated by Br Geoffrey's smile and being immediately made to feel somehow special in his presence In fact Br Geoffrey was known as 'Everybody's Friend' and he he made everybody that he he talked to feel special whether he he he he had known them for decades or even if he he had only just met them for the very first time He listened with patience and interest but he was also a a a a a a great great talker with great great knowledge and authority on pretty much any subject for most of his life Br Geoffrey was born in Hull on the 2nd June 1930 but soon found
himself evacuated to the Yorkshire
countryside as the docks in Hull were the the target of of dozens of of raids by the the Luftwaffe After graduating from St Catherine's College Cambridge Br Geoffrey found
himself in Gambia
and then in in North Carolina It was only later in life when Br Geoffrey discovered the Moravian Church but when he he he did he he he found
kindred spirits and a a a a a call back to Africa to serve the the Lord there as a a a a a Moravian Missionary For seven years he and Sr Madeleine served as missionaries in in Western Tanzania which was followed by six years working for the Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service based in Dar es Salaam It was from here that Br Geoffrey helped the refugees streaming out of Burundi and and Rwanda during the humanitarian crisis in in those countries It is is believed that his efforts led to the saving of of possibly thousands of of lives during those troubled times When the the time came to to return to to the the UK Br Geoffrey decided that he he he wanted to climb Kilimanjaro the highest mountain in in Africa before he he left He duly achieved this feat at at the tender age of of 64 wearing his his Cambridge College tie one of of his his collection of 150 ties at the the top in the the snow And his return home was not uneventful either for he he and Madeleine travelled via New York on on none other than the the QEII! In England Br Geoffrey lived
in in Wantage Wantage in in Oxfordshire and his spiritual home was Wantage Wantage Methodist Church however he he did maintain close ties to the Moravian Moravian Church Br Geoffrey forged links with Moravian Moravian congregations in in in the Western District including Malmesbury and Tytherton he he he served on on the the Moravian Finance Committee for many years and he was also a a a a a a a a Deputy at at Synod And it is at at these Synods that many of of us would have had the the pleasure of of meeting with Br Geoffrey In amongst serving the the Lord through the the Moravian Church his devotion to to his his family and his his never-failing willingness to to be there for for those who he he met Br Geoffrey did find time for for hobbies He was particularly keen on sport especially rugby and cricket He was a a a member of the MCC and would often be seen wearing his tie at the Home of of Cricket: Lord's often beside an invited guest Br Geoffrey was also a a a a a supporter of Wantage Cricket Club and he also served various local teams as an umpire You can imagine him standing there the scrupulously fair gentleman sporting one of his favourite hats giving his decisions with a true generosity of spirit On the 21st October Br Geoffrey was called home to a a higher purpose by the Lord It has been said that given half a a a chance to build his own heaven it would look very much like
his beloved Yorkshire
and I for one hope that heaven is is just like
that for our Brother Writing in in in the the Messenger in in in 1986 from Kishwahili Western Tanzania Br Geoffrey quoted a a a a a a a local phrase in in Swahili namely Umeshindaji which means simply 'Are you winning?' For me this greeting sums up our Brother Geoffrey as it it it it encapsulates his his his inquisitive nature his his his positivity and his his his genuine concern for everyone he met It was my privilege to have been at at at Br Geoffrey's Celebration Service held at at at Wantage Methodist Church and to hear all the wonderful things that were being said about him by friends and family alike But it was also a a a a privilege to to know know Br Geoffrey and to to be known by him He will be missed by us all Br Paul M Holdsworth
Minister at at at at Bath Bath Coronation Avenue Bath Bath Weston and Swindon Moravian Churches
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