Obituary: The Rev George Golding

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The Independent Online
George Charles Golding, priest and monk: born Sittingbourne, Kent 9 February 1911; ordained priest 1939; joined Brotherhood of the Epiphany 1942; Father Superior of Oxford Mission in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), Warden, Sisterhood of Epiphany 1968-93; Warden, Christa Sevika Sangha (Hand Maids of Christ), Jobarpar, Bangladesh, 1970-93; OBE 1992; died Barisal, Bangladesh 7 July 1993.

GEORGE GOLDING was a good and holy man, whose whole life was spent in the service of God and of his fellow men in the Indian subcontinent. For 51 years he worked for the Oxford Mission in India and Bangladesh.

In 1879 the Bishop of Calcutta appealed to Oxford University for men who could discuss the Christian religion with educated Bengalis in the city. An Anglican Brotherhood of the Epiphany was formed; in 1830 the first Brothers sailed to Calcutta, and the Oxford Mission was born. Its work soon expanded, a Sisterhood joined the Brothers in giving pastoral, educational and medical care, and in 1902 a further mission station was started in Barisal in what is now Bangladesh. Father George, as he was affectionately known, was Superior of the Oxford Mission in Bangladesh and Warden of the Sisterhood there from 1968 until his death.

He followed the strict sevenfold monastic Rule of prayer laid down for the Brotherhood by Bishop Charles Gore. This was the foundation of his life: the mission's function was not to proselytise but to be 'a powerhouse of prayer'. But though the Rule was his joy and strength, Golding was no remote and austere figure. The mission at Barisal runs a primary and a secondary school, both co-educational and taking in Muslim and Hindu children as well as Christian, who work and play harmoniously together. There is a home for less academic girls from the villages, who are taught simple household arts; a medical centre, and a hostel for Christian students. The compound is full of happy and purposeful activity, and Golding as Superior was responsible for the running of all these institutions.

In 1970 he added to his care the Wardenship of the newly formed Christa Sevika Sangha, the Hand Maids of Christ; the first entirely indigenous Community in the Mission founded at Jobarpar by Sister Susila SE. For her and the young Sisters, Golding had a special affection, and they were like a family to him.

Another source of joy was the growth in strength of the Church of Bangladesh, most of whose senior clergy had been educated at the Oxford Mission High School at Barisal. He loved the boys and girls he looked after at the mission, often welcoming their children and grandchildren as they followed their parents into the schools and hostels.

Father George's work was crowned in 1992 when he was appointed OBE; it was richly deserved. 'I have never seen an award give so much pleasure and pride to so many,' the High Commissioner said after the investiture. With his death, the community in Bangladesh loses its last Englishman, for no new expatriate vocations have been allowed since India became independent. But his memory will live on, and the work of the mission continue under the Bengali heads of department whom he trained so carefully.

(Photograph omitted)