The ‘intelligent and compassionate’ man who fulfilled his ambition to become rector of Pevensey has died at 67.
Reverend Dr Anthony Christian passed away at his home after a long period of illness. Dr Christian served as rector for the parish of Pevensey for 25 years .
He was born in Berkshire and grew up in South London. Dr Christian had an aunt who lived in Pevensey Bay and had an ambition to become the rector for the area. It took 30 years to achieve the goal.
Owen Visick, churchwarden at Pevensey, knew Dr Christian for the 25 years he served as rector in the parish .
He said, “When he was still in his late teens he felt he had a call to be a priest but he wasn’t immediately accepted by the council.”
Rev Dr Christian trained to be a teacher and taught English for a few years.
While training he met his wife Linda, and the couple enjoyed 47 happy years together.
They had two children, Paul and Jonathan, who are now grown-up with children of their own - making Dr Christian and his wife grandparents to one boy and two girls.
Owen Visick said Dr Christian had a ‘passion for learning’ and gained a degree in philosophy in 1972.
He then trained for the ministry and he went to St Augustine’s College in Canterbury between 1974 and 1976. Dr Christian was ordained as deacon in 1976 and priested in Canterbury Cathedral in 1977.
He worked as a priest in Kent before becoming rector in the parish of Great Mongeham with Ripple and Sutton-by-Dover in 1984. Four years later, on February 29, 1988, he was inducted as rector of Pevensey at St Nicolas Church. Ten years later he earned his doctorate in philosophy.
Mr Visick paid tribute to Dr Christian and said, “He enjoyed celebrating the holy sacraments and he was always steadfast in his beliefs. Over the 25 years, he developed and evolved a very traditional style of worship.”
He had a loyal congregation from as far and wide as East Grinstead.
Dr Christian also sat on the board of governor at Pevensey and Westham School, was chairman of St John’s Trust and chaplain to the local Royal British Legion.
His personal interests were a love of all arts including literature, music and ballet.
Mr Visick said, “He had a love of learning and knowledge. Others have said he was a philosopher, a generous host, a raconteur and a formidable debater. He was very good at developing personal relationships and was compassionate.
“He will be sadly missed by his parishioners.”
The funeral, a requiem mass, was conducted by the Bishop of Chichester, one of the first to pay tribute, as the Herald went to press.