Canon Barney Milligan, the Chaplain of St. Alban’s from 1984 to 1995, has died at his home in Dorset, in England. He would have been 93 this year. Roger Massie writes:
“Barney was a big man and when he was our Chaplain in the 1990s he made a huge mark on our congregation and became a close friend to many of us old-timers. It is a bit of an understatement that he had Friends in High Places : our chaplaincy benefited from a stream of visiting preachers including Archbishops Runcie and Carey. Claire and I have a memory of the former stirring a giant Christmas pudding mixture at Church coffee – it must have been ‘Stir-up Sunday’.
He combined his chaplaincy duties with a representative role in bringing together European Churches, and it was for this work that Queen Elisabeth called him to Buckingham Palace to recognise his work with a medal (the rather anachronistic-sounding Order of the British Empire). This work brought him into contact with the European Institutions including the one several of us work or worked for.
This still left him, his energy being boundless, time for Africa. Claire and I were among the beneficiaries since we accompanied him to Rwanda where we met Bishop Venuste in his diocese of Butare, a link which exists to this day.
After retirement, Barney sometimes visited us in London on cultural trips and once he asked me to stand in for him at an occasion at which the Archbishop – yet another one – bestowed the Lambeth Cross on Cardinal Caspar for his ecumenical work. The Cardinal delighted me by admitting that he communicated with His Holiness Pope Benedict in their shared South German dialect with which we are familiar here.
Why, it is permitted to wonder, did Barney himself never become a Bishop himself ? Perhaps because he was not everyone’s cup of tea, including those whose job it is to put names forward. Anyway, except for the odd confirmation or installation, who needs a Bishop ? And we were the winners in being able to select him to serve here. Rest in peace, dear much-loved Barney.”
In 1984, Barney Milligan, then a Canon of St. Alban’s Cathedral in England and a self-confessed “Ecumaniac”, published a book on the challenges facing Christians in Western Europe. This made him seem a suitable person to run the new office of the European Ecumenical Commission for Church and Society (EECCS, later to become the Conference of European Churches) in Strasbourg, with a view to strengthening the common witness of the churches in Europe. At the same time, he served as part-time Chaplain to the Anglican community in Strasbourg. In 1989 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, appointed Barney as the Archbishop’s Representative to the European Institutions in Strasbourg, which meant he could also continue here as Chaplain. It was Barney’s idea then to dedicate this Chaplaincy to St. Alban’s. He was a powerful preacher with a gift for making the Christian faith accessible to all.
“Barney’s great strengths were energy, delegation and a gift for friendship. He was passionate about involving everyone [in the life of the Chaplaincy].” (From: “Our History”).
Barney’s wife Evie, as warm-hearted as he and a gifted hostess, worked as a physiotherapist at a London hospital and used to commute to and fro. They have three daughters. Our thoughts and prayers are with them as we give thanks for Barney’s life and ministry among us.