The funeral of the Rt Revd Humphrey Taylor, who was Suffragan Bishop of Selby in the Diocese of York from 1991 to 2003, will be at 2.00pm on Thursday 4th March near his home in in Bristol.

Bishop Humphrey died last week at the age of 82.

Widely loved and respected in the Diocese, Humphrey Taylor was appointed Bishop of Selby by Archbishop John Habgood in succession to the Rt Revd Clifford Barker, and following 11 years as General Secretary of mission agency USPG.

Bishop Humphrey was born in Newcastle in 1938, attended Harrow School and (following national service in the RAF) Pembroke College Cambridge, where he intended to study engineering and join the family business. At Cambridge he switched to theology and then studied for ordination at Mirfield; he was ordained in 1961 and served as curate in Hammersmith and then Notting Hill before going to Malawi with USPG. He worked as a Chaplain in Higher Education in the 1970s and spent five years with the Church of England's national Board of Education before returning to USPG.

On Bishop Humphrey's retirement in 2003, former Archbishop of York John Habgood wrote of his appointment to Selby, "A suffragan bishop clearly needs to be a good pastor, and a good organiser too, given the large measure of autonomy enjoyed by suffragans in this diocese. But I was also looking for something special.

"Our most obvious need as a diocese at that time stemmed from the lack of any clear link with churches overseas, and the rather weak emphasis on mission in the diocese as a whole. It seemed to me that Bishop Humphrey’s previous experience in USPG, and his long involvement in both education and mission, were just what we needed. ...I knew that he had a perceptively critical mind, and could express himself trenchantly when he disagreed with what was being proposed."

Bishop Humphrey worked closely with the Archdeacon of York, a post held from 1999 by the Ven Richard Seed, who wrote in 2003, "We have worked closely for 3 years, meeting weekly, often speaking daily and able to share our own inner thoughts, feelings and laughter. I shall miss him greatly and thank God we have been such a close working team.

"His tireless ministry has been of great support and value to the parishes of this archdeaconry. He has visited them often and knows many of their people, not just the officers, by Christian name.

"...Indeed, his whole time as Bishop has been one of a constant Mission initiative..."

With his background in educational chaplaincy and administration, Bishop Humphrey was an ideal candidate to Chair the Diocesan Board of Education. On his retirement, Diocesan Director of Education the Revd Andrew Martlew wrote, "Humphrey was probably the best chairman I know. He also brought a breadth of educational experience to his role, plus a vital understanding of the Diocese. He deserves great credit for steering... two new schools to a successful conclusion.

"My times of greatest enjoyment as DDE were our regular strategy meetings. They enabled me to take an overview of the Board’s work, to bounce ideas off someone whose judgement I trusted, to seek counsel when faced with tricky situations – and to delight in Humphrey’s sense of humour."

A notable part of Bishop Humphrey's ministry was his interest in Industrial Chaplaincy, particularly in York and the then-thriving Selby Coalfield. On his retirement, Roy Wadsworth of York Industrial Chaplaincy recalled its inception in 1993-4: "The most difficult problem was not finding a suitable candidate to be Chaplain, but the financing of such a post. Church funding was not available for a project of this kind. But it was here that Bishop Humphrey, together with one of the major employers, was able to negotiate forward partnership funding arrangements. These would not only break new ground in church and market place relationships, but set a new national partnership pattern in the world of Industrial Mission.

"The leadership and diplomacy of Bishop Humphrey, whether standing with a Chaplain at the gates of the ABB York railway works on the day of its closure, or sitting with Trustees and Industrialists, will be greatly missed."

Lord David Hope was Archbishop of York when Bishop Humphrey retired, and wrote, "Both Humphrey and Anne have been warm and generous in their hospitality to many in the Diocese and this has been greatly appreciated. Anne has shared Humphrey’s keen commitment to education being a professional LEA Schools’ Inspector.

"As we bid them farewell from the Diocese we express our enormous gratitude to them both and assure them of our prayers and good wishes for their retirement."

These and other retirement tributes, read in full, are notable for phrases such as "great vision and strong leadership", "Humphrey’s style was to work alongside his colleagues... to offer encouragement to them to use their skills," "thanks largely to Humphrey Taylor’s tireless advocacy," "his readiness to speak up and be constructively critical," "his quiet thoughtful care and wise counsel," "by being well known, accessible, he has become trusted and valued."

On retirement Bishop Humphrey moved with Anne to the Vale of Evesham where he became an Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Worcester for ten years; more recently they moved to Bristol to be close to family.

Thanks be to God for Bishop Humphrey's life, witness and ministry; we hold his family in our prayers, and share their hope that a memorial service in the Diocese of York may be possible later in the year as restrictions in response to the COVID pandemic begin to ease.