Home > Our Work > General Secretary > Tributes to Walter Riggans from our Churches

Kingdom of Fife to Kingdom of Christ

Many people have sent very kind words of condolence and tribute on the sad passing of Walter Riggans. This is just a small selection of the many we have received. If you'd like to send a tribute please contact us here.

The Lord gives strength to his people: the Lord blesses his people with peace.
Psalm 29:11

It was with surprise and sorrow on Monday that I learned of Dr Walter Riggans’ death. Walter had preached at Martin Top several times and will be well missed by the Congregational churches among which he ministered and whose pastors and preachers he trained. He had previously been General Director of Churches’ Ministry among the Jews (CMJ) and an Honorary Research Fellow at Cliff College, as well as tutor for Biblical and Mission Studies at All Nations Christian College. He had written a number of books, including commentaries on Hebrews and Numbers, texts not known for their simplicity. Other than Walter, few of our preachers could read Akkadian, the language of ancient Assyria, while still communicating in a winsome and engaging manner. More important than any of this, however, was the warm encouragement he gave to those of us in pastoral ministry.

I recall waiting for him to arrive at Martin Top to preach, seeing him appear in a surprisingly small car. Despite his obvious intelligence, he carried on right past the chapel, turning left up the lane and disappearing into the distance. I waved and hollered, even running some way up the road to bring him back, but he was gone, out of sight. He returned ten minutes later, recognising the chapel from that other angle.

On Friday 10th June, this affable Biblical scholar was called home to be with His Lord and Saviour. Though a proud Scotsman, hailing, as he put it, from the Kingdom of Fife, he is now in the true place for which He was called and created. Solomon observed in Ecclesiastes 7:1:

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.

He certainly had a good name. Now his toil is over, his commission complete. When he was born back in December, 1953, he and his mother went through some severe physical discomfort, but the result was joyous and welcomed. His dying day may have been physically uncomfortable also, and those he left behind are now mourning and grieving, yet Walter himself has never been better off. His birth brought him to Fife, but his death escorted him to glory, into the very presence of the Messiah whom he had served so long. We who also love the Lord Jesus and believe the gospel will see Walter again - even brighter and warmer than we now remember him. Friday 10th June was a day of separation, disruption, pain and sorrow; for Walter and his Lord, however, it was a day of reunion, celebration, excitement and joy.

Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15

Alan Marsden, Salem Congregational Chapel, Martin Top


I've just picked up your email, forwarded to me by our DCEO John Brooks, and read of the promotion to Glory of our dear friend, Walter.

Professionally, I knew him through CMJ, having served on the Board of Trustees of CMJ in the 90s (and again more recently.) Personally, my husband and I came to know Walter not just as General Director but as a friend who supported us during a time of searching and discovery. My husband, a Jewish believer in Jesus, was beginning to realise the significance of his roots and the impact that would have on our family life. Even though his work schedule was so very busy, Walter took a personal interest in discipling us both and helping us to develop the Messianic fellowship we still run today - more than 30 years later. He was the first one to bring together the leaders of Messianic Jewish fellowships and congregations in the UK, for support and encouragement. Many have spoken of his wit, his sense of humour and the laughter he brought into every room he entered and I can only concur with that. Walter presided over our daughter's Bat Mitzvah, and was influential in our children's walk with the Lord at that time. We have such fond memories of Walter - afternoon tea in the garden and teasing our children mercilessly, but always with good humour and a twinkle in his eye! We remember his love of Klezmer, his stories of playing in a band - Nazareth - in younger days, and always wanting to have the last word. Inevitably he won!

I last saw Walter when he taught at a CMJ afternoon lecture at our head office in Nottinghamshire, pre-Covid, so some time ago now, but he hadn't lost his love of laughter: amused at the absurd and always up for a verbal dual-to-the-death on any topic!

What a loss to so many people, most especially his family, but friends and colleagues too. He gave so much to so many in his teaching, bringing clarity. simplicity and challenge as he unfolded God's word. We are so sad at his passing, but we rejoice for the gifts he gave in his wit and wisdom, his laughter and his love of the Lord.

Praise God for his life, now renewed in our Messiah!

Wendy Scott
Church’s Ministry among Jewish People (CMJ) UK
Chair, Board of Trustees

Tribute from York St John University:

So very sorry to hear of Walter's passing. We will all miss him here at York St John.

He was a tremendously dedicated and thoughtful person; absolutely committed to his role at CF and always a great pleasure to speak with.

My thoughts and prayers are with Walter's family and with all of you at the CF team.

Praying you will receive God's strength in your role at this time.

Best wishes,

Dr Mark Dawson
Course Lead for Religion BA and MA courses
Lecturer Religion, Philosophy and Ethics
York St John University

I simply jumped when I read the contents of this incredibly sad email regarding Walter Riggans. Many of you will know that Walter and I regularly sparred in our Zoom meetings on a Tuesday, with his proclamation that he was a Fifer, and he was from the Kingdom of Fife and often he would jokingly try to lord it over me a ‘mere mortal from Glasgow.’ We often teased and often ridiculed each other deliberately and without mercy because we shared the common bond of our nationality but also our Scot's humour.

Behind the scenes, Walter and I had an excellent working relationship as we hosted a couple of continuing development days at my church in Knightswood. I would remind Walter when I picked him up at the train station to take him to my church that he was now in Glasgow and my territory, and to be mindful of his words and actions as a ‘Fifer’ would soon be spotted roaming the streets of Glasgow. Needless to say, lots of laughter and teasing always ensued, and serious learning and discussion too – we learned from Walter, but he also learned from us, and we all enjoyed our time together.

Walter and I had some amazing plans in the pipeline for CF Scotland along with John McNeil Scott from the URC Scottish Synod, we were due to arrange a Zoom meeting in the next few weeks and I am devastated to have received this sad news.

Walter was a colleague, and an educator but more importantly he had become our friend and it feels as if a thief has come in the middle of the night and robbed us of our treasure.

My thoughts go with all the staff who worked with Walter in the offices at Nottingham and I have one request of you all, that you look after his decent coffee and always have some in the office and as for me and (us) in CF Scotland we will continue to pursue our continuous education as a testimony to the man and his legacy.

Rev Tom Wilson

Thank you for your email giving me the news about Walter. I was intending writing to you this week asking you to let Walter know that Monica and I were coming to see you and suggesting that you should tell him. He used to be in our ministry team – in fact he was my deputy at one time and he was the Director of our Biblical and Hebraic Study Centre. We had not seen him for 22 years but we would have liked to have made contact once again.

We will certainly have you and your colleagues and Walter in our prayers.


Clifford Hill
Ministry Director: Issachar Ministries

We are so shocked to hear this news. What a lovely, lovely man. His witness, warmth and wisdom was so evident and precious. We feel for his family and all of you.

We have shared this news with Jooseop (General Secretary) and we will ensure Walter and all of you are remembered in prayer at the Annual Mision Meeting.

Every blessing

Peter, Michael and Sai
Council for World Mission European Region

I am, like many, devastated by this news and it's so difficult to take in. I am praying for you all.

As you may know Walter was the personal tutor for Linsey and I when we were in All Nations college in the late 80s and early 90s and we were so happy to reconnect after many years. He supported us through, not just our studies, but through the birth of our first son.

I will be praying for his family and for the team in Nottingham and all those Walter has been a mentor, friend and wise counsellor and teacher too. He has left a kingdom legacy that is rippling throughout time.

It's so difficult to take it in! I can only imagine the shock it must be to his family and to you.

You have our love and prayers.

With deep sadness and condolences.

Kevin Potter
Minister Peppard Springwater

Well, I’m stunned at the news you’ve just shared about Walter Riggans. I had a great chat with him at the CF National Assembly and he was then, as ever, kind, helpful and friendly. I liked him from our first contact at a CWM meeting in 2018 and I had hoped that he would soon visit us at UWI to share some insights regarding the CF training model.

I feel sorry for you Yvonne and offer you my heartfelt sympathies. This is a tremendous blow for yourself and CF. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Take care.

Dyfrig Rees
Union of Welsh Independents

I was so sorry to hear this extremely sad news. During my time at Church House, I have met with Walter on several occasions, and we always enjoyed pulling each other’s legs. This morning was our Interfaith Enabling Group, which included CTBI, Salvation Army and Baptist observers, all of whom knew Walter. We joined together in sending our prayers to the family and to yourself as a long-standing colleague.

Our thoughts and prayer go with you.

Philip Brooks
United Reformed Church

Dear All,

It is with deepest sadness we receive the news of the passing of Rev Dr Walter Riggans. This must be such a shock for all involved in the Congregational Federation. Our prayers are with his family at this time who will feel his loss most keenly. But we are conscious he will be missed by so many ministerial colleagues from within the Congregational Federation and the wider ecumenical world.

Please pass on our deepest condolences to his family and church family also. Please be assured we are praying for you all at this sad time of loss. If we can do anything to support as this time, please let us know.

On behalf of Churches Together in England.


Bishop Mike Royal
General Secretary
Churches Together in England

Dear Sir

I was incredibly sad to read the news of the passing of Walter Riggans.

I am part of two worlds to which Walter belonged: the Messianic Jewish movement; and legal education.

As a young man, I devoured his books on the Jewishness of Jesus, on God’s covenant with the Jewish people, and on the relationship between the Jewish people and the church. There are very few people who can write with both intelligence and sensitivity on those topics. Walter was one of them.

A few years ago, I saw his name on the distribution list of an email circulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This gave me an opportunity to connect with him personally; I met him in the flesh at a couple of legal education conferences. I remember him joking about how his earlier study of the Talmud had prepared him for work in the field of legal regulation.

My thoughts are with his family and all who knew him. May his name and memory be a blessing.

James Mendelsohn
Senior Lecturer
Bristol Business School | Bristol Law School