Tributes paid to pioneering Norwich pastor David Pavitt

Warm tributes have been made this week to David Pavitt, a pioneering Norwich pastor who died in his sleep at home after a long illness.  He was 82.  Mike Wiltshire reports. 

David Pavitt, with his wife, Megan, was the founding pastor of Earlham Christian Centre, renamed in recent years as Eternity Church, Earlham.

Born in Manor Park, East London, David, the son of pastor Kenneth Pavitt, dedicated his life to Christ as a teenager and saved up hard to enter the Assemblies of God Bible College, then based at Kenley, Surrey, at the age of 21.

David made the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:33 his ‘life verse’ – “Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be given unto you.”

David Pavitt with Megan in earDavid met Megan at a church in Sittingbourne, Kent, in 1959 and they were married for 58 years.  Their first pastorate was at Chadwell Heath, Essex, and at other locations, David combined Christian ministry with secular work.

In 1986, David became pastor of a Norwich city-centre AoG church but after four years shared his vision to pioneer work among the 18,000 people on the Earlham estate, West Norwich.

Megan and David recalled: “People told us, ‘You’re crazy to pioneer there . . . you’re too old . . . and it’s been tried before. However, we knew it was God’s timing for a very needy area, although at the time we had no resources, except a few song books and a communion set.”

With co-workers Maureen Lee, a former missionary in Zaire, Africa; and David Fiddy, as local worship leader, the new Earlham fellowship pioneered youth work and community outreach in rented halls and retail premises – then made bold plans to convert a derelict Earlham pub, ‘The Good Companions’, into a church centre.

In 1995, the older city-centre AoG church joined forces to help buy the pub site for ‘the absolute miracle price’ of £56,000, after the vandalised pub was demolished.

Church members gave sacrificially and helped build the new Christian Centre – one man, sitting next to David in a prayer meeting, was even moved to offer £50,000 towards the building.

It was a testing time as costs escalated - then the non-churchgoing husband of one of the members gave his professional services free as a much-needed project foreman.  Finally, the new church, worth then around £300,000, “opened to great rejoicing in 1999”.

Reflecting on David’s lifetime of ministry, friends said: “He was so down-to-earth and practical. David had no ‘airs and graces’, but was nevertheless sold-out for Christ.  David ‘finished well ’  . . . he was a man of faith with a passion for prayer, evangelism and sharing the truth of the Bible . . . and he was also a fine baritone singer ! ”

David retired in 2004, and despite 17 years of poor health, he developed a far-reaching online ministry with a Christian website.

He and Megan moved to Surrey in 2012 to be nearer their wider family. They have three grown up children, Philip, Miriam and Stephen, all active in Christian work.

David was succeeded in 2004 at ECC by pastor Paddy Venner and his wife, Jennike, who moved from South Africa to lead the church at Earlham.  (Assemblies of God have a network of 550 churches in the UK).

David’s funeral service is on November 30 at Sutton Christian Centre, in Tate Road, Sutton, SN11 2SY at 12 noon.
Pictured top is David Pavitt and his wife, Megan, in later life and, above, also at their start of their church ministry.

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Published: 16/11/2017