Friday, December 23, 2011

Rev Charles Garratt

Photo found in the Pretoria Central Baptist Church's Diamond Jubilee (1897 - 1957) pamphlet.
The Rev Charles Garratt was born in Birmingham in 1878 and was the eldest of eleven children. As a young man he moved to Edinburgh and was in business for ten years before he felt that the Lord was calling him to devote his life and talents to the service of the King of kings. He was for some time in attendance at a Congregational Church, but a careful reading of the Gospel of John convinced him that he should follow the Lord through the waters of Baptism.
Although he was engaged to be married, he applied for admission to Spurgeon’s College and on acceptance had to postpone his marriage until he had completed the College course. He was a good student, a fine cricketer and a member of the Football Club. During his time at College he was appointed Head Student.
Maybe an incident while he was at College and an observation of the Principal concerning it had a marked effect on his subsequent career. It centred around the thrilling occasion to the students when Spurgeon’s beat Twickenham at soccer and it was Charles who shot the winning goal during the closing moments of play. On Monday morning after Saturdays triumph, the Principal paused at the close of assembly and directed the following remark toward the “hero of the hour”“A creditable performance Charles – but -_- how about winning souls instead of shooting goals!”
Did the remark sink in? I am sure it did. I quote from two of the tributes which have been written to confirm this. “He knew men and women, he understood their problems, he shared with them their human frailties in a very personal way and he lovingly and consistently drew them all to the foot of the Cross.”
“Charles Garratt was a man who walked humbly and whose witness for the One who was his Saviour by grace and his Lord and Master was consistent and steadfast. His pulpit ministry gave evidence of meticulous preparation and of much meditation and prayer as a result of which his message had a real impact upon his hearers.”
At the age of 31 Charles was called to the Ministry of the Word at West Green, Tottemham, where he stayed for seven years, and then for five years he acceptably served the Church at Devonshire Square, London, where despite the comparative shortness of his stay, he was remembered with love and affection.
In 1921 he accepted the call to Wale Street, Cape Town, and continued his gracious ministry there for 16 years. He served Pretoria Central Church from 1937 to 1940. In addition to his pastoral activities in Cape Town and Pretoria he served as secretary of the Baptist Union from 1935 to 1938 being joint general secretary with the Rev E Baker from October 1935 to October 1937.
At great personal sacrifice in 1940, he became general secretary of the Baptist Union and the South African Baptist Missionary Society, but nothing would induce him to accept more than a purely nominal stipend.
He adorned both positions, conducting the work of the secretariat with meticulous accuracy and with a graciousness and fund of humour which endeared him to all with whom he came in contact. He lived out what he stressed so frequently, “consideration for the feelings of others.” His ready smile was a joy so infectious that instinctively one sensed beyond the smile that life lived with his Lord which made his Christianity a glad experience.
In 1948 Charles relinquished the position of missionary secretary but continued as secretary of the Baptist Union, but his interest in the work of the society never flagged and his words of encouragement were treasured and appreciated.
In 1950 he reluctantly laid down the office of general secretary of the Baptist Union but his interest was maintained to the full and he was always most anxious to render any assistance possible.
Twice he was chosen to preach the assembly sermon, twice he was elected to the presidential chair and his wise counsel and leadership will ways be remembered.

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