JOHN DOWSE - AN APPRECIATION


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By Rev W. WALKER

Minister of Mint Street, Lincoln 1909-1917

William Walker was a founder member of Skegness Baptist Church in 1884, acting as the Lay pastor of the new congregation. During that time he met John Dowse who was pastor of the neighbouring churches at Burgh-le-Marsh and Monksthorpe. John Dowse had a great influence on the lives of William and his wife Esther ( who was born Hudson ) and baptised Esther. William Walker later became the minister of Mint Street Baptist Church in Lincoln from 1909 - 1917. He retired in 1932 after serving churches in London, Sheffield and Lincolnshire. He trained for the ministry under Charles Haddon Spurgeon at his new college in London.

He writes a tribute to John Dowse in the History of Burgh and Monksthorpe that John Dowse wrote in 1910 and which is now re-printed and copies can be obtained from:

Rev B H Keyworth, 392 Nottingham Road, Newthorpe, Nottingham, NG16 2ED

or e-mail bh.keyworth@ntlworld.com

 


A Tribute to John Dowse by William Walker

Mr. John Dowse will not write about himself. His native modesty precludes this. He has been living for the sake of others for considerably over forty years. He is by no means a young man, but his tone of voice, earnestness, vigour and alertness would make you think he was.

It is now twenty-five years since I first came to know John Dowse. I was just entering into ministerial life. I found him then a father in Israel; wise, gracious, sympathetic, a terror to evil-does, but an ardent lover of all who sought righteousness. John Dowse was the means of my wife's conversion, he led her through the waters of baptism, he married us, and only the great day will reveal how much I owe to my wife in the work of the ministry.

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Esther Hudson Walker  ( née Hudson )

I cannot profess to write a life of my friend, it would require a whole book; but it is a marvel how for years he stood as a merchant whose name was honoured in the commercial world of Birmingham, and at the same time was the successful pastor of Victoria Street, Small Heath. For years he stood by the Rev. Charles Joseph, a tower of strength. Through his wise counsel and generous help Victoria Street was built, and he was the main founder of the Church. The same may be said of Saltley Baptist Church, and many others.

When he returned from Birmingham to his farm at Thorpe Fen, for a few years away from city life, Burgh Chapel was declining, and without fee or reward he assumed the pastorate, and during the course of three and a half years revived the cause. When in 1890 business called Mr. Dowse again to Birmingham, he gave financial assistance to Burgh Chapel, and beside his business, which was more extensive than ever, found time again to assume the pastorate of Victoria Street, Small Heath. At this particular period the Church at Victoria Street had moved to their new premises in Coventry Road, leaving behind them a few of the members who desired to remain in their old home at Victoria Street, hence to assume the office of pastor under such circumstances was no sinecure. Reward Mr. Dowse never did seek, but hard, up-hill work was there without seeking.

With patient, persevering effort he toiled on, and as the result of seven years faithful service a strong self-supporting Church was built up, with a school of 500 scholars.

Next came a long period of affliction. For a number of years Mr. Dowse suffered the loss of his voice and other serious complications, which necessitated his resignation of the pastorate and all public work. It was a sore affliction for one who had led such an active life to be compelled to live in the quiet of a retired life, and even the most hopeful for some years felt that their old friend would never again be able to preach. He could not very well go back to live at Thorpe, near Burgh. The cold, and especially the damp of the Fen district, would be harmful to his throat. Consequently a house was built at Balsall, near Coventry, where he has resided since his retirement from the Victoria Street pastorate.

Those years of suffering can never be forgotten, yet we gladly place them amongst the things that are past, inasmuch as about six years ago prayers were answered, the voice began to return and grow stronger, until we could again hear of John Dowse presiding at public meetings, giving short addresses, and occasionally venturing to preach, and although constant care has to be exercised, yet it can once more be truly said that he is again in full working order.

It is really wonderful to witness the change which has taken place in Monksthorpe and Burgh since he accepted the pastorate. The congregations are good, the people are full of hope; a new vestry has been erected, a new organ introduced, and other alterations carried out. The whole of the details of the Church have been placed on a proper business footing.

Only the great day will reveal all that has been done by this faithful servant of God. His long life has been crowded with useful activities and has proved a most fruitful ministry.

Mention must be made of this last work, viz., "The History of Monksthorpe and Burgh," only those who have undertaken such a work know what a task it is to search through old records, dating from 1612, and collect those facts which will be of most interest to the public. This work has been accomplished after months of toil by Mr. Dowse, and we all feel under a great debt of gratitude to him for the permanent record of this ancient Church.

My readers will easily understand, even anticipate, that behind all this there is another personality - a true helpmate through these long years of service. I refer to Mrs. Dowse, whose marriage with John Dowse is mentioned in Chapter II., page 11, of this history. Firsby is her native place, Monksthorpe her spiritual home, around which must be woven by the hand of memory many sacred associations. Mrs. Dowse is a true believer in the doctrines of Divine grace, and through all the varied changes in the theological world has never been moved away from the hope of the Gospel. With all her sterling qualities of mind and her gracious heart, coupled with her ministry of love when her husband was passing through his affliction one cannot estimate the worth she has been to him in his work of faith and labour of love.

We trust that many years of active life may yet be granted to them, but when the shadows of evening do begin to fall may the clear light of God's divine presence be their comfort.

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