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"He created the modern prison chaplaincy service"

Posted on: July 11, 2013 2:25 PM
The Rt Revd Leslie Lloyd Rees was also chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II
Photo Credit: The Telegraph
Related Categories: England, Wales

From The Telegraph

The Rt Revd Leslie Lloyd Rees, who has died aged 94, was suffragan Bishop of Shrewsbury in Lichfield diocese from 1980 to 1986; before that his entire ministry of 38 years was spent as a prison chaplain and from 1962 to 1980 he was Chaplain General of the Prison Service.

During this time he created the modern prison chaplaincy service. Previously most chaplains served for short periods, being detached from parish work for perhaps three years before returning to traditional ministry. Lloyd Rees saw the need for chaplains to serve for much longer periods to provide longer continuity of ministry, and to gain experience of working in demanding situations. The Home Office immediately recognised the need for this, but the Church was initially reluctant to release a significant number of able clergy from the parishes.

Lloyd Rees used his considerable persuasive powers to change the Archbishop of Canterbury’s mind, and the chaplaincy service grew from a small cohort of full-time chaplains, augmented by many part-time assistant chaplains, to become a complement of more than 100 long serving clergy of differing denominations and faiths.

Leslie Lloyd Rees was born on April 14 1919 at Pontardawe in the Swansea Valley and attended the local grammar school. He was encouraged to seek Holy Orders by his Anglo-Catholic parish priest and when only 17 went to the Society of the Sacred Mission’s theological college at Kelham in Nottinghamshire. After six years’ rigorous training he returned to Wales in 1942 to become curate of St Saviour’s Church, Roath. At the same time he undertook part-time chaplaincy work in Cardiff Prison and after three years felt drawn to embark on this specialist ministry full time.

He was entirely suited to it, combining a warm humanity and a delicious sense of humour with an interior toughness and a deep dedication to the work of a priest. His first appointment was to Durham Prison, where he served from 1945 to 1948, and then went to the desolate Victorian prison on Dartmoor, where he stayed for five years, serving also as vicar of Princetown. By way of contrast, he was next posted to Winchester, remaining there from 1955 until his appointment as Chaplain General in 1962.

The prison regimes of those early years were much harsher than they would later become, and the chaplains provided a vital focus of Christian compassion in starkly inhuman surroundings. Until the abolition of capital punishment in 1965 Lloyd Rees was called upon on many occasions to minister to condemned criminals during their final hours and to accompany them to the gallows. This was not a ministry of which he spoke much afterwards, but he was always opposed to capital punishment .

Ministry to prison staff and their families was no less important to him. He was aware of the strains and stresses that prison work inevitably created for them, and he spent long hours ministering to their needs.

To read the full article visit  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10171904/The-Rt-Rev-Leslie-Lloyd-Rees.html