Who is Paul Davis?
“I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for … Trust me” Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message)
Who knows what God’s plans are for their life, how far they will travel and where that plan will lead? I could never have guessed at the path that God had (and has) planned for me!
After ordinary beginnings, the son of a railway worker and a book-keeper in Kent, I went to local schools and to the parish church. You could have seen me there, every Sunday, in choir robes, looking angelic! Confirmaation classes followed plus amateur dramatics with the church group.
Then came much activity on the social welfare front through the Boys’ Grammar School, chairing a local charity – it was a good way to mix with the Girls’Grammar School!
Poor A level results meant ideas of university were gone. I worked as a student apprentice in hospital administration for three years, then as a hospital manager. First, as deputy initially, at two London hospitals, then at a conglomeration of hospitals and health centres in Kent.
About this time, Harold Wilson, the then Prime Minister, established the Open University and I was a student in only its second year, reading Science and Social Sciences. I eventually graduated with a BA in 1976.
About halfway through this course, I was approached by the senior surgeon at my hospital suggesting that I apply to Medical School. He could see something in me that I could not see. I was accepted unconditionally at the Royal Free Hospital on the basis of my one A level and half an OU degree! I had to do a six year full-time course and graduated as Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery in 1979. I did not get any sort of grant or loan for this as it was my second degree so I was a “kept man” by my wife during training. I wanted to specialise in Obstetrics & Gynaecology but my feelings against unnecessary abortions ruined that. After junior hospital posts, I went on to train as a GP.
My interest in emergency medicine and pre-hospital care grew – I became one of the “flying doctors” attending road accidents and major incidents. Sometimes patients waiting to see me would hear the emergency telephone ring in the surgery and would know that, within seconds, I was in the car with “blues & twos” responding to some crisis! These often involved helicopter transport to the scene or emergency dashes through crowded streets praying that people would get out of the way. The wrong way along a motorway hoping that the police had indeed cut off oncoming traffic is scary! Some of the incidents I attended included the Kings Cross fire and the Clapham Junction train crash. I was made a consultant in Emergency Medicine and I also undertook two mission spells in the Republic of Georgia teaching young doctors in Tblisi.
I have always been interested in teaching and became a GP Tutor, the Associate Regional Advisor in General Practice, a lecturer and examiner with Barts and Royal London Medical Schools and eventually Vice-Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners.
As you will imagine from that list of busy-ness, church took a back seat! But as my health began to suffer I took early retirement from medicine. I am blessed that my health has been restored and I remain well (as long as I keep taking the tablets!) Gloria and I have a son, Chris, and Beth, who is an Area Children’s Worker and in the last year of the ITC with a call to ministry at Hutton Free Church. We have three young grandsons keeping us on our toes!
I came to the Lord again through my son when he was about six. He joined the Boys Brigade and, as a dutiful dad, I went along to parade services. At one of their displays, within minutes I was wearing a face guard, my jacket back to front and defending myself with a fencing sword against the attacks of the pastor, David!
David became important to me, spending time and gently leading me back to the Lord. From this basis stemmed nearly thirty years as a Baptist – member, deacon, church secretary and lay preacher. I started to train at Spurgeon’s College but the Lord had other ideas and drew me into the local Congregational Church where I preached regularly.
I moved from Spurgeon’s College to the Congregational Integrated Training Course. I have just had the honour, with my friend Fionnagh Read, to graduate BA (Hons) – the first students to complete this challenge. Now we are both tutors on the course.
In 2010 I was ordained Assistant Pastor at South Chingford Congregational Church and now assist with the Team Ministry at Orsett, Hutton and Woodham Ferrers Churches. I serve as Area Secretary for the SE Area and chair the Pastoral Care Board.
Now, I have the honour to have been elected by the churches of the Federation as your President Elect. My passion has always been “caring” – for both bodies and souls and I can promise you that I will continue to care – for all the people and churches within our Federation.
I look forward to visiting as many of you as I possibly can during my Presidential Year. Please invite me!
Paul Davis (President Elect)