Hundreds pay tribute to ex Bishop of Norwich
2007: Hundreds of people gathered at Norwich Cathedral on Friday September 28 to remember one of the most popular bishops the diocese has ever known.
They were there to celebrate the life of Maurice Wood, the Bishop of Norwich from 1971 to 1985, who died on June 24, aged 90.
The congregation of more than 300 recalled a man of great energy, enthusiasm, kindness and bravery with a zest for life and a passion for evangelism that never waned.
The Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Graham Smith, told them: “It's a tribute in itself that so many people are in the cathedral here today to pay tribute to Bishop Maurice.”
Former Bishop of Thetford and prolific hymn writer Timothy Dudley-Smith was unable to attend, but recalled his friend and former colleague in an address read by Archdeacon Michael Handley.
“One of his gifts was his ability to engage with young people, students especially,” he said.
Bishop Maurice was a true son of Cambridge and Queens' College in particular.
“You could have found him there in his 80s preaching in his college chapel, still setting forth the claims of Christ.”
He recalled Bishop Maurice's time as curate of St Paul's, Portman Square, London, during the Blitz and his night-time visits to people sheltering from the bombs in tube stations, paying tribute to Bishop Maurice's “easy rapport with the gallant cockney families that Hitler and his bombers could not defeat”.
Later Bishop Maurice served as a chaplain to the Royal Marines, winning the Distinguished Service Cross in 1944 for his work on the Normandy beaches, where he landed on D-Day.
Bishop Timothy described how his friend spent a night comforting and holding the hands of two wounded soldiers while under heavy enemy bombardment, helping them through their time of distress.
A friend and admirer of American evangelist Billy Graham, Bishop Maurice would never hesitate to speak to people outside the church about God.
Despite this, he was not pious, Bishop Timothy added, recounting a story about an encounter with two hippies in a Sydney park.
Telling them, “You make me feel so at home because we have lots of people like you in my country,” he chatted to them and presented each with one of his self-written booklets about God, and asked their names so he could sign them.
They gave their names as Alien and Pod, and then asked what his middle initials “AP” (Arthur Ponsonby) stood for. Quick as a flash, he told them his name was Maurice Alien Pod Wood.
He said many of the congregation would have their own personal memories of Bishop Maurice. “You may have been a child at one of his school visits and seen him balancing his staff on his chin.”
Canon Gordon Bridger said Bishop Maurice ministered with “great humanity and humour but with great sincerity too”.
He said: “Bishop Maurice was a friend of God that showed and inspired many of us who worked with him.
“Bishop Maurice was always reaching out to those outside the church, armed with his Bible, booklets and cards and motivated by the Good Shepherd himself.”
The congregation sang some of Bishop Maurice's favourite hymns, including To God Be The Glory, At The Name of Jesus and Tell Out My Soul.
Readings included Ephesians 6: 10-20 and John 10: 22-30 and the cathedral choir sang Psalm 121, and anthems Steal Away and O Taste and See.
Story courtesy of www.edp24.co.uk