Norman Ryder was born in 1933 and was brought up in the sphere of the New Church in Kidderminster with his elder sister Sheila and younger brothers Ken and Phil. Their father died when they were quite young. Norman participated enthusiastically in New Church young people’s activities throughout the Midlands. He gained a reputation as a table tennis player and expert writer of sketches for last night socials at the Purley Chase Summer Schools.
After leaving school he worked for some years in the public library service, but felt a call to the ministry and was ordained in 1964. He married Pamela Nebbs of the Anerley, London New Church and they had two daughters, Abigail and Deborah. His first pastorate was at Seaburn Dene in the recently planted church in a new estate on the outskirts of Sunderland. In 1969 he moved to Chester, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Norman served as President of the General Conference of the New Church for five years from 1985 and again from 1992 to 1996 when Revd Robert Gill had to stand down early for health reasons. Norman had a deeply scholarly mind. He was a member of the Conference’s Old Testament Translation Committee and was one of the editors of its translation of the Pentateuch (1970). He was for many years a vital member of the Library and Archives Committee. His phenomenally detailed memory was of great value to the Committee. In latter years he was deeply involved in the enormous task of producing for the Swedenborg Society a new multi-volume bibliography of the works of Swedenborg.
His health and mobility deteriorated so that he had to move into a care home but this did not stop his work on the bibliography. In spite of his scholarly interests, pastoral work and the support of his congregations remained his life-blood and even in the care home he led several services of worship.
One old friend described visiting Norman in the care home as ‘inspirational’.
Obituary kindly provided by Gordon Kuphal.