Graham Preedy (1928 - 2021)

Anyone who has been in the Circuit long enough will remember Graham Preedy as a long-standing and dedicated local preacher. Graham retired from preaching at the end of 2011 having served Ealing Trinity Circuit and its predecessor as a local preacher for no less than 61 years. Nonetheless, Graham remained active at Greenford Church with, amongst others, the Junior Church, the Foodbank and tending the church garden until deteriorating health ultimately forced him to stop. In about 2018 Graham moved to Coppermill Nursing Home at Harewood where he spent the final years of his life. Until his death on 24th July this year, Graham retained his positive approach to life along with his deep Christian faith.

This was the tribute published in In-touch No 59 (March – May 2012) following Graham’s retirement from local preaching.

Our longest serving Local Preacher, Graham Preedy decided just before Christmas that the time had come for him to stand down from preaching. Recognised as a Local Preacher in 1950, Graham has served for 61 years during which time he has conducted something like 1,200 services.

Graham is a life-long member of Greenford Church and his journey to becoming a Local Preacher started during the 1940’s in their Sunday Night Fellowship. He says that, believe or not, in those days he was very quiet and seldom said anything in the group’s meetings. That is, until someone said something he really disagreed with, said so and hasn’t stopped talking since!

Graham’s ‘call to preach’, however really dates from 1946 when he came into contact with the Order of Christian Witness, which had been founded by Donald Soper as the ‘Kingsway Preachers’ during the Second World War. This Order mobilised young people under Soper’s leadership for outdoor preaching – teams of young people would go to a town, stay in church halls and go out to preach the Christian gospel to the townspeople. Graham was in a group of 13 who went from Greenford to hold outdoor meetings in Plymouth. Towards the end of one meeting, Graham felt he had something to say, climbed on the chair they were using as a ‘pulpit’, said about four sentences and forgot the rest despite having prepared it beforehand! However, it was after that that his minister suggested he might consider becoming a Local Preacher.

Graham studied by correspondence course and was tutored by Rev Clive Thexton. When it came to his oral exam, during which questions are asked of prospective preachers about their course and their call to preach, Graham felt he responded ‘hopelessly’. However, he must have done better than he thought as he passed to become a qualified preacher. He soon learnt about being mindful of his appointments, however. His recognition service was being held at the Ealing Broadway Church, where Mary Bryant was also being recognised. That evening, as he was clearing out his desk drawers, he looked at his diary and suddenly realised he should have been at his recognition service and no longer had time to get there. The following morning he made his profuse apologies to the Superintendent Minister who fortunately, was ‘very nice about it’.

Graham’s first service was at South Acton Church and about 8 of his friends went along to support him. At the end of the service they lined up outside shouting ‘you see, you see!’ – he’d used the phrase no less than 24 times during his sermon. He never said it again!

Over the years, Graham has seen many changes – the change from addressing God as ‘thee’ to ‘you’, which to begin with took a bit of getting used to; the change from the King James version of the Bible to modern translations such as the Good News Bible and the NIV, which Graham feels are more easily understood; new songs and hymns with modern words and music; smaller congregations, although Graham says it’s always been good to hear Methodists sing heartily; shorter sermons – down from 25 – 30 minutes to about 20. One thing that hasn’t changed however, is what people say to the preacher after the service. Generally, they say ‘thank you for a nice service’. On one occasion, however after a service at Ealing Green one man spoke to him and tore his sermon to shreds, after which he apologised. Graham recalls saying, ‘That’s quite all right, if only more people did that, it would be very helpful.’

Not surprisingly, Graham says he will miss preaching. However, he feels this is the right time to stop, partly because he can only take evening services of which there are now only two in the Circuit, partly for health reasons, and partly because he doesn’t want people to feel he’s gone on too long. Graham will, however continue teaching in Greenford’s Sunday School in which he’s clocked up a phenomenal 70 years’ service.

I’m sure you’ll join in offering heart-felt thanks to Graham for all his years of faithful service as a Local Preacher.