The following is a letter received from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to mark the death of Bishop Henry Hill. Bishop Hill died in Toronto last Saturday. His funeral will be held on Friday.
For countless Anglicans involved in ecumenical affairs, Henry’s presence was one of the things that set the tone and expectation of ecumenical encounter. The endless gentleness of his attention to other Christian confessions could be seen in the quality of his friendship and attention to his own Anglican colleagues as well; both grew out of the fundamental attention to God that pervaded every day of his long life.
The little study in Toronto, full of photographs of Henry with the great and the good of the Christian world over half a century and of mementos of his contact with other confessions, especially the oriental Orthodox, felt very like the cell of a Russian starets – the home of an ‘elder’ released from administrative burdens, licensed to be himself before God, and simply living out something of God’s hospitality. To spend even a little time in that atmosphere of radiant and relaxed goodness was to be renewed in your sense of what mattered for and in the Church.
Henry Hill was a very great man of God. I am lastingly grateful to have known him and to have felt something of that radiance. I am thankful to God for his life; thankful too to the Church of Canada for sharing one of its most wonderful sons with the rest of the Communion and the Christian world. May his memory be eternal; may he pray for his sisters and brothers struggling on with the ecumenical challenge inside and outside the Communion.
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