On Friday, 28 June, many friends and family, from around the world, gathered in St. Peter’s Church of England in Mowbray to salute this dedicated Disciple. A man of principle, conviction and courage, Neil Michael Hurworth was born 3 August 1933 and ended his productive earthly life at age 85, entering eternity 22 June 2019.
Uncle Neil began climbing Table Mountain during the time of General Jan Smuts whom he encountered on the slopes, in the 1940s. He and Wendy continued climbing the mountain until just a few weeks before his untimely death.
Neil Hurworth was also an avid Yachtsman, who took his family on many sailing adventures. On one memorable occasion he took his son, Stephen, on an expedition to St. Helena Island, but forgot to pack the nautical maps. He remembered the Theological books, but the lack of nautical maps meant that they missed the island and got caught in a Force 10 storm. As his son, Stephen, noted, they were most fortunate to arrive back in Cape Town alive and in one piece! Stephen commented that sailing to St. Helena Island amidst the very high winds and rolling white waves, with long overhanging crests and limited visibility, is still “the most exciting episode” in his life.
Stephen also reminisced about the occasion when his father was given the hospitality of the then prison service, after his yacht was swept onto Robben Island! Another memorable instance was watching his father being escorted off the Beach by the police, for practising shooting at the mouth of the Little Brak Rivier.
The Hurworth Hostel and Transport Depot
Neil Hurworth and his wife, Wendy, have been good friends and supporters of the Mission for 35 years. There was a time that the Hurworth’s home in Mowbray served as Hospitality quarters for Frontline Fellowship missionary volunteers from England. When Rev. Bill and Harriett Bathman visited Cape Town, it was at Neil and Wendy’s home that they were hosted. In fact, when she first came to Cape Town, the first home Lenora stayed in was the Hurworth’s home. They became her second family as she enjoyed being introduced to life in South Africa for a month. When all we possessed were motorbikes and I needed to borrow a vehicle to pick up foreign guests at the airport, or to collect literature from the printer, it was the Hurworth’s Datsun Station Wagon that I was grateful to loan.
Bishop Bradley and Neil Hurworth
It was through Uncle Neil that we met the dynamic Bishop Stephen Bradley, who also became a good friend of our Mission. We had many concerns in common. Neil Hurworth and Stephen Bradley had military backgrounds, were deeply suspicious of political correctness and utopian projects. They always preferred individual responsibility to government control. They were Christ-centred, Bible-based and enthusiastic for the fulfilment of the Great Commission and promotion of Classical Christian Education. Together we opposed numerous World Council of Churches (WCC) intrigues, subversion and infiltration campaigns and combatted communist conspiracies.
Always at the Ready
Mrs. Scarborough recalls the occasion when she and her husband, the Rev. Scarborough, were still ministering at the Sea Point Congregational Church. One Sunday, Rev. Scarborough fell ill and collapsed in the pulpit. Uncle Neil, always prepared, with Sermon notes in his jacket pocket, asked for permission to continue the service. Once granted, he ascended the pulpit and gave a seamless message, blessing the whole congregation.
Contending for the Faith
As Mrs Scarborough wrote: “What impressed me was that Neil had the gift of discernment in special measure. By his wisdom he could see farther than many a Theologian. He recognised false ideologies which were entering into the Church, exposed those who promoted them and warned of the effects false decisions would have on Church and society in the long run. His voice was prophetic and reformative, but seldom heeded by Church authorities. His several years of ministry at Maitland Congregational Church were a great blessing to that congregation. For his children, Neil also summed up in writing his knowledge and understanding, praying that it would equip them to live wisely in a new world.”
When our Mission was facing financial challenges, it was to Uncle Neil that we turned. As an astute accountant it did not take him long to identify problems and he put in place good bookkeeping, accounting practices and procedures to prepare our Financial Statements for state Audits. By God's grace, Uncle Neil was a loyal friend in times of need, who weathered numerous storms with us. We praise God for his Biblical Worldview, deep Christian Faith, dynamic devotion, robust Faith, evangelistic zeal and love for God's creation. “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3
Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Neil Hurworth
At the Friday, 28 June, Memorial service at St. Peter’s Church of England in Mowbray, we sang the Hymns “And Can it Be” and “To God be the Glory”. Tributes were read from his adopted son, Marcus and given by his two daughters Linda and Diana and sons, Mark and Stephen. Truly Neil Hurworth can declare: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the Faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa