Peter Pay, Moderator of the URC General Assembly, 1946-2021

Last Updated on 5 January 2022 by Ann-Marie Nye

It is with deep sadness that the United Reformed Church (URC) announces the death of Peter Pay, Moderator of the URC General Assembly, a former Synod Clerk and an Assembly Accredited Lay Preacher who was a member of Salisbury URC.

Mr Pay had been living with a malignant brain tumour for some time and had bravely continued with his commitments until he was forced to step back towards the latter part of the 2021. He died on 18 December.

The Revd Clare Downing, Moderator of the URC General Assembly, said: “Peter has been a valued colleague and friend in various capacities over the years. His clear thinking and ability to ask pertinent questions has been a real asset to the life of the United Reformed Church. He brought a serious mind, tempered by a well-developed sense of humour to dealing with difficult issues. He will be much missed within Wessex Synod, the wider URC, and ecumenical partners.”

Mr Pay grew up in the Kingston upon Thames area where his parents were active in the local Congregational Church. His parents had met and married there, and Peter served the church as a Sunday School teacher in his teens. One of his last commitments as GA Mod was to preach at his childhood church.

Ecumenicalism became important to him from early in his career: he attended his local Methodist Church while living in Midhurst where he ran a youth club and Bible group.

On moving to Brussels for work purposes, Mr Pay, and his wife Jo, who was brought up in the Catholic tradition, attended a Church of Scotland church.

After returning to Britain, Mr Pay joined Wheatley URC where he was ordained as an Elder and then became an Assembly Accredited Lay Preacher and started his work in the wider Church.

He worked for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI, a former British chemical company) for about 30 years, initially as a marketing specialist in the paints division, and then as a training manager. Later, he worked as an overseas marketing consultant in ICI’s agrochemicals division.

In his final decade with the firm, Peter was based in Brussels managing the training service for all divisions across Europe. In this role, he also worked as a consultant. He worked in more than 50 countries worldwide and was fluent in French.

Mr Pay was granted early retirement at 50 and then spent 12 years working as an independent organisational change and management development consultant.

He served for 10 years as Wessex Synod Clerk, was a Trustee of the URC Trust and of the Wessex Trust, where he served as the Synod Ministry and Mission Fund Secretary.

He has served on the church’s Training, Learning and Service (TLS) Management Group, Human Resources Advisory Group, Nominations Committee and Mission Committee, including a period as deputy convener.

Mr Pay has assisted with organisational change projects in Wessex, other Synods and at Church House, and remained active in the Wessex Synod’s partnership with the Eglise Protestante Unie de France.

He became Moderator of the URC General Assembly, with the Revd Clare Downing, Moderator of the Wessex Synod, in 2020, and remained an active lay preacher.

Peter is survived by Jo, and their four children, Mark, Michele, John and Matthew, and grandchildren.

The Revd Dr John Bradbury, URC General Secretary, said: “I have come to know Peter in the last couple of years, and benefitted greatly from his wisdom as my line manager. I owe him a personal debt of gratitude, and have had the privilege of coming to know the quality of his faith, his commitment to service, and the way he brought his considerable acumen and skill from his professional life into the Church. We give thanks to God for all Peter has been to us and hold his family and friends in our prayers as they grieve. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”