TRIBUTES have been paid to a minister who brought a smile to his congregations.
Rev Chris Weddle, of Marton United Reformed and St Georges United Reformed Churches, died suddenly on Saturday.
The popular minister, 56, arrived at the churches in 1987. Parish leaders today told The Gazette he would be missed in the community as he had done a lot to make the church more accessible.
Marton church elder Eileen Bamber said: “It is a terrible shock.
“We’re all devastated – he’s been a rock for the church for a long time.”
Rev Weddle introduced Pizza Praise to the church, encouraging youngsters to attend by including them in the church.
Mrs Bamber added: “He brought in pizzas and filled the place up with balloons for the young people.
“He also introduced a Christingle service to the church and whenever he spoke in services, made sure it didn’t go over the children’s heads.”
One lasting legacy in the church left behind by Rev Weddle is a link of names of all the people baptised in the church since 1945.
Every christening saw a name and date added to a ribbon which flows around the church building.
Diane McKnight, secretary and church elder at St Georges, added: “Most of the time he went quietly about visiting people and giving his support, advice and care, and treated everyone the same.”
Rev Weddle, who had celebrated 30 years in the ministry, also served on the URC National Nominative Committee in London to consider church appointments.
He was also serving as interim moderator at Fleetwood, Cleveleys and Bispham United Reformed Churches following the death of Rev Peter Grey, and had served as a governor at Stanley School for 15 years.
Rev Weddle leaves widow Heather, daughter Clare, 28, and son Peter, 26.