Rev Cecil Kerr taking part in an ecumenical service at Ormeau Park, Belfast, in 1979
‘His vision of the Kingdom of God was a kingdom of unity, peace and power’
The Reverend Cecil Kerr, who died recently, was one of the foremost reconciliation figures in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. He and his wife Myrtle founded the Christian Renewal Centre in Rostrevor in 1974.
Cecil George Kerr, who was born in 1936, was ordained in the Church of Ireland in 1964 and served as a Curate in St Patrick's, Coleraine.
He was head of religious education at Annadale Grammar School from 1963-65, before becoming a chaplain at Queen's University.
He also lectured at Queen's from 1973-6 in Biblical studies and pastoral counselling.
Following a profound experience of personal Christian renewal, he and his wife founded the Christian Renewal Centre in 1974.
This was a considerable leap of faith in moving from a secure position to facing the unknown at a time when an independent reconciliation centre was not high on the agenda of the churches.
Nevertheless, the centre quickly gained trust among Protestants and Catholics and many church-based groups and individuals availed themselves of the facilities on either a residential or daily basis.
The work of the Rostrevor centre became well-known and respected internationally.
Cecil Kerr was a gentle man of deep faith and his Christian witness touched many lives.
He and Myrtle retired to Warrenpoint in 2000, although for the past decade or so he suffered from declining health.
Paying tribute, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Down and Dromore, the Rt Rev Harold Miller, said: “Cecil Kerr's reconciling ministry was a true gift of God throughout the difficult times of the Troubles.
“He held out a vision of the Kingdom of God which was a kingdom of unity, peace and power, providing a Gospel contrast to the bitterness and division being experienced all around and even between Christians.”
Rev Kerr is survived by Myrtle, his daughter Ruth and sons David and Timothy.