'Called to Serve'

The stories of the ordinands of St Faith's, Great Crosby

John Edwin Bebb

John Edwin Bebb was one of many people called to serve the ministry who enjoyed strong links with St. Faith’s.  His name is recorded on several occasions in registers of services at St. Faith’s, first appearing in the summer of 1934 and then in Lent, 1937.  Dorothy Carter, a much-loved late member of St Faith’s, wrote in a 1980 church magazine article of some of her past memories.  In this she recalled John Bebb as being one of several men called to the ministry from St. Faith’s.

John was born on the 21st November 1913 in Clapton, London. His parents, Frank and Kathleen had married in 1908.  Family circumstances brought John and his elder brother to Liverpool where they were educated at The Liverpool Institute.  He graduated in Theology from St John’s College, Durham in 1935. 

We cannot be certain of how John became associated with St. Faith’s; it is unlikely that he lived in the area as he attended The Liverpool Institute.  It might be possible that Canon John Brierley, one time vicar of St. Faith’s and who, from 1934 had been on the Patronage Board of St. Chad's College, Durham, may have first introduced him to St. Faith’s.

He was ordained a deacon at Liverpool Cathedral 20th December 1936.  There is a record of a John Bebb having conducted several marriages at St. Thomas, Seaforth between 1936 and 1937.  In 1937 John was licensed to St. John and St. James, Litherland, where he served as curate until 1940. It was during this period that John provided Compline at St. Faith’s during Holy Week. 

There appears to be a blank in his working life between 1940 and 1945.  It’s possible that he may have had some involvement in the war effort but he was evidently busy in other ways as in 1940, he married Joyce Tilley in Durham later having two children; Kath and Peter.

We next pick up his ministry in 1945 following his induction as vicar of St. Mary, Lower Ince, Wigan, that year.  Early on in his ministry a newspaper reported of his going down the local coalmine to experience for himself the harsh working conditions of miners, “I dug coal myself,” he said afterwards, “but I would not fancy doing it for eight hours at a stretch.” 

John held several incumbencies over the following decades at churches spread across the country from the Solway Firth (Christ Church, Silloth), to the Isle of Wight (also named Christ Church).  He also taught Religious Studies at a school.

John finally retired after a full and active career to the Lake District in1983.

He died aged 79 on the 27th October 1993 in Kendal, in his beloved Lake District.

John Woodley

(With grateful acknowledgement to Peter Bebb and Anne Gilbert). Updated and amended April 24th, 2015


Photos taken in the 1950s in the Wigan area

The list of  ordinands