Born in Ludlow on 4 July 1890, he trained for the ministry at Handsworth College. He was an Army chaplain in Malta before going to the newly-built Tonypandy Central Hall in 1924. He had become a pacifist and socialist and his preaching attracted huge crowds. He founded the Community House Fellowship as a place of retreat and practical activities like boot-repairing for the unemployed. After moving to the Huddersfield Mission he resigned from the ministry to continue his work with the Fellowship, but was reinstated in 1972. His gifts as preacher, politician, poet writer, musician and mystic enriched the lives of countless people. When the Fellowship was disbanded its assets were entrusted to the Methodist Peace Fellowship. He died at Ludlow on 6 May 1981.
'R.J.Barker was a convinced pacifist and a Christian socialist. He had a formidable intellect and presented his beliefs witrh great cogency. His own lifestyle was simple, almost Franciscan… When I was Secretary of the Conference … I wrote to R J and invited him to apply for reinstatement. This he did. He was welcomed back by the Conference meeting in Harrogate in 1971 and he appeared in the gallery wearing a clerical collar The President, the Rev. Kenneth Waights, with characteristic warmth, saluted him from the platform. It was a joyous moment.'
Kenneth Greet, Fully Connected (1997), pp.41-2