The Rt Rev Richard Hare

RICHARD Hare, who has died aged 87, has been described as one of the most colourful and unforgettable bishops produced by the Church of England within living memory.

He was born in Burma, but his father, who was working there on harbour design, died when he was still a baby, and his mother brought him to Littlehampton.

He was educated at Marlborough, and in 1942 joined the RAF, training to be a pilot in the United States. Having won his wings, he was about to be posted to the Far East when the Japanese surrendered, and the war was over.

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Returning to the UK, he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Trinity College, Oxford, and after graduating, studied for the Ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. He was ordained deacon in 1950 and priest 12 months later.

He was a curate in Haltwhistle for two years and then for seven years was Domestic Chaplain to the Bishop of Manchester, the highly-respected Dr William Greer, with whom he formed a strong friendship based on mutual respect and affection.

In the early 60s he was appointed to the Cathedral Chapter in Carlisle, his bachelor home an 11-bedroom house in the Cathedral Close. He was joined there in 1963 by his new wife. He and Sara – known as Sall – Spedding had met in the kitchens of Rose Castle, home to the bishops of Carlisle, and were introduced by the wife of the then-bishop, the Rt Rev Thomas Bloomer.

Having been Rector of St George with St Luke, at Barrow-in-Furness, Vicar of Winster, Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness, and an Honorary Canon of Carlisle Cathedral, in 1971 he was appointed Bishop of Pontefract and there he remained until his retirement 21 years later in 1992.

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In the early 70s, the style of his Ministry was transformed when he discovered the existence of charismatic prayer groups. He told a friend: "I found my way into them. They looked somewhat astonished and sceptical that a bishop should appear among them."

From that point his approach to ministry changed, and he became ever-alert to opportunities for spreading the charismatic message with its focus on active worship, prophesy, speaking in tongues, and healing. Ebullient and outspoken, Richard Hare had become a very rare kind of Church of England bishop.

As Diocesan Director of ordinands, he revealed another side of his ministry: his pastoral care and sustained support for newly-ordained clergy was outstanding.

He was also very supportive of the work of the prison chaplains.

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Even if he had not become a charismatic, he would have been unusual because he had instant recall, whether of prose, poetry or names. It not only distinguished his sermons, but meant he could conduct an ordination service without reference to the text, and name the confirmation candidates – as many as 30 – at the laying on of hands, and later when administering communion to them.

He was an enthusiastic supporter of the work of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which works on behalf of Christians persecuted for their faith, and was on the board of reference for many years, continuing to attend meetings long into retirement.

Following his retirement, he and his family moved back to the Lake District. He had been a founding trustee of the Calvert Trust which provides active holidays in the Lake District for the physically handicapped. In his retirement he developed a ministry of encouragement to younger clergy, and enthusiastically embraced emailing as a way of corresponding.

Sall died in 1999. He is survived by their children Rosamund, William and Alice, and 11 grandchildren. Their firstborn, Thomas, died when he was only three months old.

A memorial service is being held today in St Kentigern's, Crosthwaite, Keswick at 2pm.