James Lennox

JAMES Lennox, an Anglican priest for 72 years who in many ways was ahead of his time, has died aged 97.

He was one of the earliest Church of England clergy to serve as a town councillor when elected to Huddersfield Borough Council in the late 1950s, and while a vicar in Bingley he was at the forefront of the move to replace Matins with Parish Communion as the main form of Sunday worship.

He also led parochial church council away days and held parish

breakfasts before they became common practice in parishes.

He was born in Kilrea, County Down, Northern Ireland, one of four children of the local doctor, who died when the children were young and they were brought up mainly by their widowed mother.

The Rev James Lennox was educated at Campbell College, Belfast, before graduating from Trinity College, Dublin in 1936.

After theological training he decided to enter the Church of England and was ordained in 1938 in the Durham Diocese.

In August 1940 he married his wife, May, also from Dublin. Their wedding was in London during the Battle of Britain, but Second World War restrictions meant their families could not travel to the ceremony.

His first parishes as a curate were at Houghton le Spring and at St Cuthbert's, Darlington, both in the Durham Diocese, before he became Vicar of Woodhouse, Huddersfield, in Wakefield Diocese in 1947.

There he saw the building of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Fartown, and at a time of Commonwealth immigration into Huddersfield, helped to welcome many of what was to become a well-established West Indian community.

He was also instrumental in getting the first black player, who was a very good bowler, into Huddersfield Cricket Club.

In 1963 he became Vicar at All Saints' Church, Bingley, in Bradford Diocese, where he spent many happy years in what was an active and lively parish, and where he made many innovations.

As well as establishing parish communion and parish away weekends he started the Drax men's society which met in the upper room of the Brown Cow pub and, not surprisingly, brought in men who were not always regular church-goers.

He helped establish a strong choir, and with a number of parishioners formed the Bingley Parish Church Preservation Trust which raises funds for the upkeep of the building which dates from 1518.

He also led the building of another new church, St Aidan at Crossflatts and last year attended its 40th anniversary celebrations.

During his ministry Mr Lennox was noted for his training of young curates, including several while at Huddersfield and eight during his 14 years at Bingley where, when he retired in 1977 he continued to worship.

In Bingley he was also chaplain to some of the town's secular institutions, including Airedale Agricultural Society. He was a member of Bradford and Bingley Rugby Club, and the town's Rotary Club. He was also vice-chairman of Bingley Grammar School governors for many years.

Away from church he was a regular golfer, playing at Shipley Golf Club until he was 80, and he was still a social member when he died.

Mr Lennox's wife of 59 years predeceased him in 1999, and he is

survived by his sons Michael and Lionel and five grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at All Saints' Church, Bingley, on Monday, at 2.30pm, where the address will be given by Canon Ronald McFadden, a long-standing friend who also hails from Kilrea.