Born in Plymouth on 3 November 1874, he worked for ten years for a firm of ironmongers in Cardiff before training for the ministry at Handsworth College. A disciple of Samuel E. Keeble, he served as Secretary of the WM Temperance Committee, 1911-1919 and of the Temperance and Social Welfare Department, 1919-1942. He was a keen advocate of total abstinence and created an ecumenical Temperance Council, of which he became secretary in 1915. He wrote a history of The Control of the Drink Trade (1918), served on the royal commission on liquor licensing laws 1929-1931 and was made CBE for his work on the legislative control of the trade. Among his other publications was the first volume of a history of The English Temperance Movement (1932), sub-titled 'a study in objectives', which angered prohibitionists by setting out the case for moral suasion. Keeble felt that his preoccupation with personal issues such as temperance was at the expense of wider social and political issues. But in later years he did at least expand the agendas of his Department to cover other social concerns, such as gambling. At the Methodist Church Congress in 1929 he spoke on 'The Social Dynamic and the Methodist Movement'. A pacifist, he was a founder-member of the Methodist Peace Fellowship and was much involved in refugee relief work after World War II, serving as chairman of the Ecumenical Refugee Commission from 1948 to 1951 and publishing The Refugee Problem in Europe and the Middle East (1950). He died in Plymouth on 19 June 1951.
'May I suggest a particularly appropriate object to which gifts in token off thanksgiving for the preservation of peace can be directed? From the Czecho-Slovak territory now ceded to Germany persons of Jewish birth are fleeing. Those who are Jews by religion as well as race will look to their fellow Jews for help, nor will they look in vain. But this leaves unmet the urgent necessities of those who are Christians by confession. It is for these non-Aryan Christian refugees that I plead. Those who escape from the border-lands of Czecho-Slovakia will be added to the tens of thousands who are seeking escape from Germany and from the Austria of yesterday…
'Will Methodists whose hearts are moved by thanksgiving for peace send gifts to help some of those whose sorrowful plight is involved in the terms of peace? This is an emergency call….'
Letter from Henry Carter to the Methodist Recorder, 6 October 1938, reprinted on 8 June 2018
'On one or two occasions when the going was particularly rough he wrote a letter resigning from the Secretaryship of the [Temperance and Social Welfare] Department, but I don't think that those letters were ever sent. A man who is a pacifist, who pioneers new thinking, and would never allow the Methodist people the luxury of a Christian experience divorced from involvement with worldly concerns, is not likely to have a smooth ride… One canot help but feel that the Conference was remiss in not electing the great man to the presidential chair.'
Kenneth Greet, Fully Connected (1997), pp.47-8
Entry written by: KGG
Comment on this entry