04 May 2017

Dr Pauline Webb

It is with sadness that the death has been announced of the former Vice-President of the Methodist Conference (1965-1966), Dr Pauline Webb.

Pauline Webb died on 27 April, she was a campaigner, journalist and broadcaster and missionary publicist.

She was born in London, in 1927, the daughter of the former Methodist missionary to Nigeria, the Revd Leonard F. Webb. Pauline was educated at King's College, London and joined the Methodist Missionary Society as Youth Education Secretary (1952-1954) and worked as area secretary for the Caribbean (1973-1979).

Pauline was a pioneer for Women's Ministry, raising the issue of women's ordination at the 1959 Methodist Conference. She was a participant in the Anglican-Methodist Conversations and the first woman to be elected an officer of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches where, as Vice-Moderator (1968-1975),  she played a leading role in its programme to combat racism and was thrown out of South Africa* for her outspoken views.

She was the first secretary of the Board of Lay Training,  (1967-1973) and organiser of Religious Broadcasting for the BBC World Service, 1979-1987, as well as a regular contributor to Pause for Thought on Radio 2 and Thought for the Day on Radio 4.

Pauline undertook extensive travel and met with leading Christians throughout the world, chronicled in her autobiographical World-Wide Webb (2006).  Her later years were spent as a resident in Wembley (her birth place) and most recently in 2016 move to The Meadow residential care home in Muswell Hill,  operated by MHA.  (Pauline opened The Meadow in 1966 in her Methodist Vice Presidential year - 50 years on she took up residence there.)

Reflecting on the tremendous impact Pauline had on Methodism local and world-wide, the Revd Dr Lord Leslie Griffiths said:  
"Pauline achieved recognition well beyond the confines of Methodism. She directed my feet to Haiti and I can testify to the respect in which she was held there and in the Caribbean generally. I also saw at first hand the colleagueship she enjoyed at the BBC. Hers was, indeed, a world wide web."

 Pauline At LP60th (2)

* Pauline was told to leave South Africa in the 70s. This ordeal was shared in her book, "World Wide Webb" . What it says is this: (p193-94):
"So I had to go the office of South Africa House to request that the ban on my travelling  to South Africa be removed and that I be permitted to travel to attend the Churches' Conference.".....Then almost exactly 20 years after I had been refused permission to enter Johannesburg airport , I arrived there again., this time to join a long queue at the passport desk for a searching interview about the reason for coming and a warning that I must not out-stay the duration of my visa." 


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