Chris Warner: a man of great vision
2009: A personal tribute is paid to Good Work team leader and URC minister, Rev Chris Warner, by friend and colleague Peter Paine, Port and Industrial Chaplain for Great Yarmouth.
It was on a cold Sunday afternoon in St Nicholas Parish Church that I first met Chris Warner. He was to ask me to be the new Port Chaplain for Great Yarmouth.
Chris was very much a God-blessed person, whose vision for Great Yarmouth has left us with a lasting impression. When I first knew him he was working with the owners of the new power station that was being built, it was interfering with the television reception of many people in certain areas. Chris, along with Patricia, had started in the front office of the newly formed Community Connections dealing with the general public and ghosting on their televisions. Thus Community Connections was born.
Chris was a man of great vision, he fought to gain funding on the idea of starting “CLIP” offices (Community Liaison & Information Point) a point where the general public could go to find out about things happening in their area and in the town. Soon CLIP offices were opening up all over the borough. Community Connections was growing very quickly and Chris was working to make it a limited company and then into a Charitable Trust. This was achieved along with a newly formed board of Directors.
Through whatever Chris turned his mind too, he could see the “Bigger Picture”, one such vision was to overarch the two bodies of Churches Together in the Borough, with “Borough Wide Churches Forum”, a place where everyone from the church community could meet and bring news from their part and to also have a special speaker to show how God’s love was working in everyday work. We had the chaplain from the hospital informing us how he used to work, and what God brought into his work, right through to a Borough Officer talking about “black bags” on the street, and how the churches could help.
Chris was also very heavily involved in Industrial Mission, not only locally, but also nationally, by designing and collating their monthly magazine, he only put this down a couple of years ago. There was nothing better for Chris than to sit in with Councillors, Voluntary partners and other as a faith representative, holding fast to that which he believed in. Over time Chris managed to get at least one faith seat on many committees. As part of I.M., Chris was very active in both Yarmouth and also Norwich. In Yarmouth he would go to an electronics meeting called ANGLE and be their chaplain, always ready to help if the need arose, always ready to listen and always ready with advice.
Many people with only remember Chris getting an offshore vessel ready decked out with a white cross lit up on the aft deck, ready to go out and take the Christmas message to the people working on the gas rigs off Cromer. Not only did he take the message, but also presents were winched up from the deck for all to enjoy. But before the ship left port a carol service was held on board for many of the town folks to come and enjoy. It would be fair to say that Chris was not a good sailor, and as soon as he handed the job over to me he never went to sea on a boat again.
Chris would drop anything he was doing at the call of an emergency. One such case was when I asked him to join me, going by helicopter to the gas platforms when the helicopter went down with the loss of all eleven lives on board, We went from rig to rig and covered many services for the lads and had quality time with them to offload to us. That was the sort of person Chris was.
For the past couple of years he was working from Norwich, and he was drawing together a team ministry for five churches. Once again, I know he had a vision and I am sure he has shared the vision for others to run with it.
Chris was not only my boss, he was a special friend who saw me through my ministerial studies and helped me to understand so much more about Industrial Mission. You may know him in a different way, he may have helped you or shown you a way to get to your goal. He was certainly a man of GOD, and all I can say is that there is a bright new star in the heavens looking down on us all.
God Bless you Chris, and thank you for 18 years of friendship.
Our prayers must also go out to Chris’s family, to his wonderful wife Kathy,
and his two sons Peter
he was so proud of you all and our prayer will be with you.
Please leave your own tributes or memories of Chris below.