by Rosalind Lund
from Signs of the Times No. 65 - Apr 2017

Joan was a familiar figure at Modern Church annual conferences, snapping away with her camera to get photos for publicity material or displays during the year.

In fact I’m sure a number of her pictures have a continuing life on the Modern Church website.

This might have surprised her as she had something of an allergic reaction to the idea of the internet and modern technology - her own trusty typewriter, handwriting or the telephone were her preferred methods of communication. She appreciated being made a Vice President in recognition of her service to Modern Church over many years.

Joan started coming to Modern Church conferences in the early 1980s so I didn’t get to know her until sometime in the 1990s. However, she soon became friends with my parents, Simon and Christina Tebbutt, and found herself elected to Council. There her talent for minute taking shone out and she soon became secretary to the Council and to the Standing Committee (as the Trustees were then known). Her meticulous minutes were hugely valued by Richard Truss as Chair and Nicholas Henderson as General Secretary. She had a good memory for what had gone on in the past and never hesitated to speak up if she thought someone else’s memory was failing!  In fact she always did speak her mind whether on matters of procedure or principle. She valued Modern Church in the first instance for its stance on the ordination of women and was already a member of the Movement for the Ordination of Women (MOW) when she joined Modern Church. Always a keen lay member of her local church, Joan was for some years Lay Chair of her Deanery Synod and enjoyed being involved in all aspects of church life.

When Joan moved from Ipswich to Needham Market, she joined the worshipping community at Somersham, a nearby village where her mother had lived and where Joan already had a number of friends. On either side of the altar of this church are two fine mid-eighteenth century pictures of Moses and Aaron. Joan felt these were well worth restoring and undertook the organisation and finance of this project - a much appreciated memorial to Joan herself.

The little church was full of Joan’s friends and former colleagues and the simple service with tributes from her friends made us feel Joan’s real presence again with us. We heard something of her wonderful holidays, her work as a teacher of social workers at Suffolk College and her membership of the Soroptimists, a global volunteer movement working together to transform the lives of women and girls. 

Jonathan Clatworthy, Richard Truss and I represented Modern Church at her funeral. I don’t think she missed an annual conference in all the time I knew Joan, and she will be much missed.