Jim Wynne-Evans RIP

Just back from Edinburgh where I had been to a marvellous funeral service for the Rev Canon Jim Wynne-Evans. Old St Paul’s was packed to the gunnels to mourn Jim and celebrate him too. The kind of service where the Great & the Good and the Riff Raff were there in equal measure and some probably fitted into both categories.

We managed to remember him well, I rather think.

It was a funeral that made me weep buckets, and to be honest, there are not many of those. I was not close to Jim in recent years. Indeed, I knew him best about 10 years ago. However, when I encountered him I found him to be funny, gracious, witty, naughty, hospitable and downright good. I think he was also the first out gay priest I knew who lived with a partner. I learned from him possiblities that had been fought for.

Richard Holloway reminded us this afternoon that Jim came from a time when persecution was much less subtle than it is now. Indeed, for much of Jim’s life, living out his life as a gay man could have got him in trouble with the law. And medics tried to torture gay men into being straight too. The shear resiliance of the gay soul facing all that (and the onset of AIDS and all that brought) is the answer to why gay folk keep turning up at church and some of us stay and keep fighting on.

He also reminded us of just how compassionate, angry, holy, funny, raw and downright coarse the love of God actually is. (At least, that’s the way it is if the biblical authors are to be believed). After the sermon there was a Princess Di moment as the applause began at the back in the cheap seats and moved up the church in waves.

There was much to be moved by. Brother Kentigern reading the lament for David and Jonathan, the guitar music from David, Jim’s other half, the sound of the plainsong psalms and +Richard’s fine words. I’d say there is no singing quite like the sound of triumphant hymn singing by a defiant Christian crowd at a good funeral. (And fine trumpet descants took us to a special place too).

And then at the end, a magic moment. +Richard led them out with Jim’s coffin to negotiate the stairs. (No mean feat in itself). As he went, he read the Nunc Dimittis.

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace : according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen : thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared : before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles : and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

As he went down the stairs and started the Gloria, there was a crackle and the microphone was out of range and his voice was silenced at the midverse.

Hundreds upon hundreds of people took up the words as though committing themselves to take up and celebrate in their own lives all the things in which Jim had been great:

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be.
World without end.

Amen.

Comments

  1. There was indeed really something extraordinary about the funeral, Kelvin. It was a wonderful tribute to one of the last and greatest of that amazing generation of clergy and laity.

    • It is six years since the death of my friend Jim wynne- evans, I met him as a young gay man and became friends along with Bill douglas (Rip) and Jimmy Lindsay who where paying guests at the towers . Jims older friends camp name for his lofty flat with many stairs. I spent many nights there after fire island and ate bread and good coffee next morning!,Jim David, and I many years later would alternate Sundays where we would have supper at each other’s homes. I said to Jim one Night .How on earth did you put up with me staying at your home drinking your Gin and eating your food, Typical Jim smiled his beaming smile and those who know him tilted his head and looked me in the eye and said But Larry you were such good fun.people don’t know how how many people jim helped in his life (Hammy Rip) and to many to mention .he had a very happy and fulfilled life with David and both as I witnessed were in there elements in a skip looking for plunder .Jims funeral was unique dicks take of the Elderly bishop who didn’t mind gays who didn’t practice at some conference .Dicks affectation was pure Jim Practice who needs practice was jims retort . jim did tell me this tale but when told to me the F word envolved. jim was an exradionanary man Funny,good fun .raconteur,loved his Gordon’s gin .Commonly known at his home as a Towers Gin!I know of many people he helped they told me not Jim.And the many he has helped they only know.I miss Jim his sense of fun his sound advice.Its said after three years the the dead friends become a memory ,not jim or Lesley (darling) or Miss Jenks(bob) Jimmy the Bish gone but not forgotten . larry Healy.

  2. Thank you for this post: we couldn’t be there and it’s good to have this.

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