The Revd Graham Cook 1939-2019

Graham Cook black and white news bannerIt is with deep sadness that the United Reformed Church (URC) announces the death of the Revd Graham Cook.

Graham was one of the best-known and most influential ministers in the story of the URC.

Born in Liverpool in 1939, Graham was ordained in 1963 at Four Lane Ends, Blackburn.

He served local pastorates in Lancashire and Yorkshire from 1963 to 1985, where he became known as a powerful and direct preacher, and a forceful advocate for Christian values in civic and public life.

Graham then went to Windermere as founding Director of our Church’s training centre, and did much to establish it as a lively and effective work.

After this, he spent a decade as Moderator of the URC Mersey Synod, retiring from that post in 2004.

Graham was elected as Moderator of the URC General Assembly and served in that role from 1990-91.

An interview with Graham, carried out by Reform magazine in 1990, can be read here.

The Revd John Proctor, General Secretary of the URC, expressed his condolences, saying: “While serving as Moderator of General Assembly, Graham gave the Church a strong lead in raising funds for a residential youth centre at Yardley Hastings, near Northampton, and there are still many people in our fellowship whose lives were enriched by the life and work of that place.

“In sorrow we give thanks to God for Graham’s great contribution among us, for his gifts, energy, strength of character and unstinting service of the Church and the gospel. And we offer deep sympathy to Jean and the family as they grieve the passing of a good and wise man.”

Graham CookBelow is a prayer used by Graham Cook at the Windermere Centre's dedication ceremony in 1986: 






Lord God,

heaven and earth cannot contain you,
much less this place
which our imagination has conceived, and our money has built.
but we come now to pray that you will use it
to fulfil some part of your purposes.

You are the centre, Lord God,
the heart of all that exists.
It is your breath which gives life.
It is your love which gives meaning.

You are the centre, Lord God.
It is toward you that all seekers after truth walk,
no matter where they start from,
and in travelling toward you they move closer to each other.

You are the centre, Lord God.
You are the focal point of all history.
When you became human in Jesus
and suffered at the hands of powerful and holy people,
all who have ever been poor, or hungry, or hurt discover
that they share with you the pain of recreating the world.

We have dared to call this place a centre,
for here we long for your name to be known,
your Word to be discovered,
your truth acted upon:
'What is heaven to me without you
And where am I on earth if you are not there?
For away from you life is not life.
To break faith with you is to be no-one.'

So let it be a centre,
a place to which all truth can come
and find itself at home;
a place where faith is fearless,
and finds itself constantly standing on new ground
and discovering it to be holy;
a place in which stories are told, laughter is heard, and tears are dried;
a place in which new directions are found,
fresh words are rolled around the tongue,
new ways of praying are tested and found to be satisfying.

Here let new community be created,
tools be tested for the creation of new life
for this nation and the world
and windows be opened into your Kingdom.

You are the centre of all things, Lord God,
and today we dedicate this place to you.
So let it be at the centre of all that matters,
not tip-toeing around the edges of controversy,
trying to build bridges over troubled waters,
but standing with you at the heart of the storm;
not standing on the edges of human life
looking for pretty and pious things
with which to decorate emptiness,
but with men and women and their communities
as they struggle to find new life, new purposes, and real joy.

Lord God,
behold the thing we have created.
Take it
and make it yours.
We ask it in the name of Jesus.



Funeral arrangements

The family are holding a private cremation for Graham on 4 September in the morning, and a thanksgiving service will be held on the same day at 1.30pm at St John’s URC, Wilderspool Causeway, Warrington, Cheshire WA4 6QE, to which all are welcome.

For further details, e.g. parking arrangements, please contact the URC Mersey Synod Office nearer the time.


Published 15 August 2019
Updated: 23 August 2019