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Baker, Dr Eric Wilfred
1899-1973; e.m. 1922

The son of a Birmingham City councillor and magistrate, he was educated at King Edward's School. He served during World War I but later became a pacifist. Trained for the ministry at Wesley House, Cambridge, in 1946 he became Secretary of the Methodist Education Department and concurrently Chairman of the London NE District. During twenty years (1951-70) as Secretary of the Conference he proved to be a superb administrator and an ecumenical statesman. He was President of the Conference in 1959. Among his published works is his Fernley-Hartley Lecture, The Faith of a Methodist (1958). He died at Eastbourne on 19 September 1973.

Quotations

'Eric Baker had become a Methodist institution. He was a master of procedure and in Conference successive Presidents leaned heavily on him, especially when the going was rough and points of order started flying around like bats in a belfry. He had a mind like quicksilver which enabled him to make instant decisions, perhaps just occasionally and particularly in relation to people, a little too rapidly. He was always concerned to preserve the prerogatives of the President of the Conference. If, as sometimes happened, the incumbent of Wesley's chair found himself at sea in the middle of some complicated procedural wrangle, Eric Baker would rise and with a gentle smile wouild say, "If I read your mind correctly, Mr. President, you were about to suggest…"; then would follow a perfect solution to the verbal dilemma.

'There were those who thought Eric Baker a rather austere person. We who knew him best, however, recognised in him a man with a deep pastoral concern, especially for his fellow-ministers, and a kindness which warmed the hearts of many of those who turned to him for help. His sometimes brusque manner cloaked an esential shyness.'

Kenneth Greet, Fully Connected (1997), pp.71-2

Sources

  • Conference Handbook, 1959, 1971
  • Methodist Recorder, 9 July 1959; 27 Sept. 1973
  • Times, 24 Sept 1973
  • Roy N. Newell, Methodist Preacher and Statesman: Eric W. Baker (Taunton, [1984])

Entry written by: KGG
Category: Person

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