Wecome to Logia, the personal blog of Paul Hartwig. Reflections and resources to enhance understanding of what God has revealed of himself in Scripture.
Tribute to a Colleague and a Friend
Dr. Kevin Roy (left in picture)
October 10, 1948 - November 27, 2021
Is it possible to discover a 'Jonathan' after he has left this world? A week ago on this hour you slipped into the presence of your Lord. How fitting that you were out walking in the hills of Cumbria, near the Lake District, marveling at the beauty of the recent fallen snow. You stopped to talk to a friend and while sitting in his car, leaned back and were home with your Lord. Like Enoch you “walked with God, and you were not, for God took you.”
Memories of the decade we had together as colleagues teaching at the Cape Town Baptist Theological Seminary are fresh and vivid thirty years later. You were loved by all. Your winsome disposition, self-deprecating humor, and disarming smile—how could we all not be won over by your sincerity. Hubris and guile were strangers to your person.
You came to us at the Cape Town College in 1989 after nine years in the Dorothea Mission and almost a decade in the pastorate. As a consequence, the lantern of your spiritual life always burned bright and you traveled light, not distracted by the weight of any materialistic aspirations. I loved to hear you pray because you were not conversing with us but with a Father who you knew and talked with daily. The reverence with which you spoke the name “God” in lectures and in prayers struck a cord in our souls.
Your idiosyncrasies endeared you to all. You would stand before a class and during the lectures naturally fold both arms behind your back — a feat that I doubt Houdini could emulate —and then challenging gravity you would rock back and forth on your heels. When the arms were unwrapped they would at times flail out to stress a point of enthusiasm like discombobulated windmills. I remember the day I walked past your closed office door and heard a commotion. I paused for a moment and it sounded like you were finally taking a student to task. I had never heard such censure from you before. I heard no student voice and knocked on your door. Seeing no-one I enquired, “are you alright.” You replied, “Yes, and merely giving myself a good talking to.”
You loved the student’s questions and your classes were always a safe place to grow and learn. I remember well our theological discussions and search for truth and courage in our evolving political South African context. Your heart was always wide and the broken and the hurting found an advocate and champion in you. Always you were willing to dispense forgiveness and in our faculty meetings I was the hawk and you were the dove. I would often tease you with the comment that “you would give the Devil the benefit of the doubt.”
Our histories overlapped: you were born in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia); my birthplace Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). You grew up on a farm near Broken Hill and attended a Catholic private school, St. Georges, in Salisbury. I went to University a few miles away. You went to Bristol University to study Civil Engineering on a prestigious academic bursary. After a year you came back to African soil and sunshine and your life moved in a different vocational direction. Your heart was captured by the Lord and you never let go.
Although an ocean and 10,000 miles separated us these past twenty years our friendship never wavered. We stayed in touch through the gift of email and, when I returned every May to Cape Town we met for coffee at Constantiaberg. We picked up our friendship and conversation like we had seen each other yesterday. The three hours of banter, news briefs, laughter, and sharing of information evaporated as if a few minutes as we covered updates on our students across the world that we had both taught and shared stories of our friends and family. In 2016 you flew down to Cape Town and we had ten days to catch up as you taught Carson-Newman University students at Team House on the Noordhoek Beach. You were pastoring in Gauteng then and I encouraged you to retire and enjoy farm life and family in northern England. You waited a few more years because you did not want to abandon the church in transition —so typical of the Kevin Roy axiom of life — others first, Kevin second.
I always looked forward to your Christmas letters with news of the family you treasured and loved and imagined the beauty of your surrounds. I had hoped to come your way during my sabbatical in the fall of 2020 but Covid struck and threw us all off balance. In days to come I will visit the oak tree on your farm where your ashes will be sprinkled and walk down the village road that you took before walking into God’s presence. I have re-read your recent emails with tears and joy this past week, You wrote in an email in August of 2018 of the joy of settling on the farm in the Cumbria environs, “Having been born on a farm, it looks like I am going to die on one.”
Up to the last you were giving away your life in ministry to people and shepherding a flock of believers at Castle Sowerby Chapel. When you went walking you memorized Scripture and prayed. What living words were you speaking and praying on that last walk shortly before the Lord came and took you home? Your life touched your students, parishioners, and colleagues with such encouragement, friendship, and grace. Our hearts are bruised and the loss of your presence profound, but we know now you live “forever in the house of the Lord.”
. . . a 'David'
December 2, 2021
Dr. David Crutchley
Dean of Religion
Jefferson City, Tennessee, 37760
Every remembrance of Kevin Roy’s sudden and unexpected home-call on the 27th November 2021 is echoed in my heart with feelings of deep and uncommon sadness and loss. This tribute of mine is a personal attempt to articulate why my knowledge that Kevin is ‘absent from the body and present with the Lord’ produces those strong feelings within me. I write for very personal reasons, but believe it will also honour Christ and his servant whom he loved ‘to the uttermost’.
I was in my second year at the Cape Town Baptist Seminary, 1989, when a rather idiosyncratic new lecturer was presented to the student body. His rather quirky characteristics and abstracted bearing told us we were receiving a lecturer without precedent, whose uniqueness would be easy prey for comical imitation. Who amongst us can forget his early modes of lecturing: the frequent rocking motions in all directions, his compulsive wiping of the whole face with his hand for reasons known to him alone, his gesticulations synced to his varied intonations, etc. His clothing was also memorable, especially his short ties and those trousers which continually needed preventative intervention- explicit and visible to all! Dr Roy was a phenomenon to us, and his entire manner was entirely the opposite to the composed and well groomed Dr Crutchley. We were blessed by some very able teachers, but the manner of Kevin surpassed them all.
Kevin was my lecturer mainly in the fields of Systematic Theology and Church History. In those subjects he came into his own, excelling especially in Church History. I’m sure we all knew then, and still do, that Dr Roy knew Church History. Though in teaching Systematics Kevin frequently expressed his ignorance of certain details (he was never pretentious), in matters of Church History he infrequently expressed ignorance. His immersion in Church History - especially that story in its South African chapter - and his own living faith in Jesus Christ had combined in him to give us a lecturer who eschewed all extremes and sectarian Christianity and humbly sought to direct his life and students ‘to the faith once for all given to the saints’. I now can identify him as a reformed catholic. This made him a friend to the Charismatics and the Reformed, the Activists and the Pietists. He was a catholic (with a small ‘c’), a mere Christian alert to any ‘tribalism’ in the Kingdom of God. It was also evident to me that Kevin loved his Bible. Though he did not give any courses in Biblical Exegesis, his love for the Scriptures and belief in their inerrancy clearly fuelled his life and ministry. He would frequently share from some text that had just spoken to him in his private reading. It was refreshing to have a lecturer who was not ‘preparing lectures’ but one who taught from out of a life in tune with both the Saviour and the Scriptures. Little did I know in 1989 how formative that inimitable Dr Roy was to be in my life and career.
Fast forward to 1999. In this year I decided to enroll with Pretoria University through CTBS for my PhD. My topic interfaced with the subjects of Eschatology and Ecclesiology, and I knew who I wanted as my Supervisor. Kevin was glad to take on the role, and I think from that time onwards he became a friend who travelled with me through subjects and materials that we both felt passionately about. I was very fortunate to have someone at hand even in Pinelands to give knowledgeable feedback on the 19th century Brethren Movement. We spent some good time together in his home, a home which I always felt matched the friendly, sympathetic and godly man that characterised Kevin. My conviction that all theological research should be illustrated by Church History probably grew out of that formative time in my relationship with him. When I graduated in 2002 at St James Church, how glad I am now that it was Kevin who presented me to the assembly for the conferral of my PhD. Who would have guessed that evening that God was preparing me to return to the Seminary 11 years later to lecture in those exact subjects Kevin had taught me - Systematic Theology and Church History!
We shared much in common. We both liked to walk alone to meditate and pray. We both served in Baptist pastorates. We both taught Theology and Church History at the same institution and then both of us went on to pastor churches outside our denomination. We both wanted the Baptist Union to adopt a clearer theological identity in terms of creation and gender. And we both embraced a more reformed catholic identity in theology. Yet in other ways we are very unlike. Kevin was a ‘consultant’ for me who would give wise and experienced guidance. He was an authority in South African and Baptist History. He was a mature man in life and in thought. Even though living far away in Carlisle, I could text him with a query and just share something I had found interesting in church history. He was a senior friend on the one path we were both travelling toward the Celestial City.
How grateful I am now that Heather and I could have visited him and Ina in 2019 in Carlisle. Closer personal friendship around common theological and denominational matters were formed in his cozy loft above a busy family home. The memories of standing with him at Hadrian’s Wall in the pouring rain and talking of the Roman Empire and Early Christianity will not be forgotten. And of course Kevin driving those narrow farm lanes with his body in the car and his mind somewhere else! He was as inimitable as ever. I have lost a comrade and friend in Kevin. But I think he has given me enough over the past 33 years to continue some of his work in his absence. When the Master of the household calls one of his servants to leave the fields and come in to the Main House, who can begrudge such a honour to a fellow worker, and a veteran at that. I’m very grateful that the Master sent him to work in the fields close to where I was learning to labour. The Lord could have sent him somewhere else. Later, when I am called in, we can complete this good relationship that has only just begun.
I close with a text that I think Kevin personally cherished, and I often think of him when I read it.
“ For this is what the high and exalted One says – he who lives for ever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isaiah 57:15)
Paul B. Hartwig