Remembering David Bignell

Churches Together county contact for Nottinghamshire Rev Jonathan Smithurst shares memories of his friend and colleague.

It is with sadness, but with thanksgiving for a life well lived, that I write following the death of David Bignell on 22 September 2023, aged 82. He leaves a widow Pat and seven adult children Andrew, Jonathan, Christopher, Joanne, Rachel, David and Kimberley.

David was ordained Deacon in 1979 and Priest in 1980, serving all his ordained ministry in the Anglican Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham. He was Curate at St. James’, Porchester, from 1979-1982, becoming Vicar at St. Peter’s, Awsworth with Cossall in 1982 until 1986. From 1986 until 2006, David was the Vicar of Holy Rood, Edwalton, additionally being appointed as the Bishop’s Ecumenical Officer from 1984 until his retirement in 2006. David served with Permission to Officiate from 2006, and in retirement he continued as the Honorary Secretary of Churches Together in Nottinghamshire until 2020.

By my calculation, David gave 36 years of service to ecumenism in Nottinghamshire, a remarkable ministry for which I and many others are immensely grateful. I have happy memories of many car journeys together in which we shared the joys and challenges of the ecumenical journey. Immediately following David’s death, I wrote to ecumenical colleagues to pass on the sad news.

Rev. Geoffrey Clarke, Moderator of the East Midlands Synod of the United Reformed Church replied:

“Thanks for letting us know this sad news….   I always found David to be respectful and gracious.  His dedication to ecumenism is, as you highlight, significant.  He will be missed.”

Ian Pickering, Ecumenical Officer for the Nottingham and Derby District of the Methodist Church replied:

“David is fondly remembered by myself and those who received the benefit of his wisdom and support at ‘The Church in Rise Park’ during his time as Diocesan Ecumenical Officer… His presence amongst us will be sorely missed but the legacy he leaves behind is rich indeed and is testament to his devoted service to his heavenly father and the people he served throughout his ministry.”

I first met David in 1982. He was a dear friend and a much-loved colleague in ministry in Attenborough. In conclusion, let me say that I and many others will miss David very much. As we commend him now to our Lord, the words which particularly come to mind as we remember David are “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”.

Rev Jonathan Smithurst.

Photo credit: © St Mary’s Attenborough