Temple family

John R. Temple (1885 – 1948; e.m. 1910) was a missionary in China. After training for the ministry at Didsbury College he went straight to South China in 1910 with the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society and was stationed at Fatshan (now Foshon), near Canton (now Guangzhou). In 1914 he married Ruth M. Barrowclough, who had travelled by train independently as a 'Woman Auxiliary Nurse' to the Hunan District.

In 1917 he returned to England to serve as chaplain to the Forces. His health weakened by 'trench fever', he served another four years in China until 1923. After spending some years in British circuits, in 1931 he was appointed as joint General Secretary of the British and Foreign Bible Society. In this capacity he visited many countries in America, Europe and China to familiarise himself with their Bible Societies. During the 1939–45 war he developed a vision of creating a worldwide United Bible Society (in parallel to the World Council of Churches and United Nations).

His dream came true and in 1947 he became the first Secretary of the UBS. In this capacity he visited China and died in Hong Kong, where he is buried. On his gravestone are carved three large Chinese characters, chosen by his Chinese friends, translated as 'love, lake, benevolent'. Bishop Berggrav of Norway summed up his nature with the words: 'The sun is in him'.

Four of their sons served in Africa, three of them as missionaries

John Lloyd Temple (1916-1994) was born in Hong Kong on 10th December 1916 and died November 1994 in Weston-super-Mare. He spent most of his first six years of life in South China. After his family's return to the UK in 1923 he was educated at preparatory school in Arnside and at The Leys, Cambridge. He studied at St Bartholomew's Medical School and passed as a doctor in 1939. He met his wife, C. Mary Leighton when working in Ipswich and joined the Navy in 1940. He was a RNVR surgeon lieutenant on a destroyer and a minesweeper. He qualified as a surgeon and was appointed to a consultant's post in Weston-super-Mare in 1952 where he worked until retirement from the NHS in 1978. He had three sons and two daughters. He was active in the St. John Ambulance Brigade and was County Surgeon for Somerset. He was a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary.

He spent two spells working in Africa for MCOD, at Segbwema in Sierra Leone and at Dabou in Ivory Coast, in 1973 and then in 1977. In 1973 he returned to the UK crossing the Sahara in a Landrover. He was an active Methodist layman, Sunday school teacher, circuit steward and local preacher. He and his wife accompanied Dr. W.J. Platt to the independence celebrations of the Ivory Coast Methodist Church in the 1980s.

Merfyn Morley Temple (1919-2012; e.m. 1942) trained for the ministry at Richmond College and served in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, 1943-1974. His wife was daughter of the Northern Rhodesia missionary Sidney Douglas Gray. Acutely aware of the colonial colour bar, he joined Kenneth Kaunda's campaign for independence and was seconded to the Zambian government from 1963, giving distinguished service especially to the Land Settlement Board. His familiarity with the economic hardships of rural Africans led to his involvement in the Haslemere group, precursor of the World Development Movement, and to a passionate commitment to organic farming, which he practised in retirement on a Berkshire smallholding and encouraged on his visits to and in correspondence with Zambian farmers.

As a pacifist he undertook a cycle ride round Britain to promote a daily mid-day prayer for peace, and travelled to South America to protest against the Falklands war in 1982. He marked his 70th birthday by travelling with a bicycle from Kenya to the Zambesi valley to promote organic farming. His writings include African Angelus (1951), Rain on the Earth (1956), New Hope for Africa (1990), Elephants and Millipedes (1997), Small Miracles (1998), and A Dream of Donkeys (2000). In 2003, having been imprisoned and deported for delivering a letter of protest to President Mugabe, he described his experience in Three Days in Mugabe's Hell-hole. The first volume of his autobiography was published in 2010 under the title Zambia Stole my Heart and its sequel Visions for Peace posthumously in 2013. He died on 12 January 2012.

James Hope Temple (1921-1994; e.m. 1946) was born on 4 July 1921 and educated at The Leys School. Accepted for the ministry in 1945, after two years in circuit as a pre-collegiate probationer, he went to Wesley House, Cambridge. Influenced by his older brother Merfyn, he went out to Northern Rhodesia, where he served from 1957 to 1964. The rest of his ministry was spent in English circuits. Both at Broken Hill (now Kabwe) and back home in bringing together the Devon and Dorset Mission and the Bridport Circuit, he showed both administrative and pastoral skills. He was a keen member of the Fellowship of the Kingdom and for some years its General Secretary. He died on 17 January 1994.

David Gifford Temple (1923-2015). David, the youngest of the four sons, was educated at The Leys, Cambridge and at Pitlochry where he was head boy. He read English and History at Christ's College, Cambridge where he met Judith Start. They were married in 1946. On leaving school David had appeared before a tribunal registering as a conscientious objector and had been given an unconditional exemption from military service. He had a strong vocation to be a teacher and taught at Bradford Grammar School. In 1952 he went with a young family to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) where he trained primary school teachers, at first at Kafue and then eventually became the Principal of David Livingstone Teacher Training College. Judith was bursar and social studies tutor at the college and wrote the first geography text book for the schools of Zambia that related specifically to that country. They returned to the UK in the mid-sixties and he became Educational Consultant to theMethodist Missionary Society. He had a long spell as honorary Treasurer of the Methodist Church Overseas Division. He initiated an ecumenical organisation called Christians Abroad, which he led for several years. In addition to these activities he was an active Methodist and local preacher in Petts Wood and Chislehurst. In 2008 David and Judith moved to Sheffield. He had a great zest for life and worked quietly in the background to get constructive things done. He had two sons and a daughter Elizabeth who is a Methodist Minister. He died in 2015.

  • Colin Morris, Snapshots (2007), pp.38-41
  • Methodist Recorder, 17 May 2012