David Say

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David Say
Bishop of Rochester
David Say.jpg
Church Church of England
Diocese Diocese of Rochester
Elected 1961
Term ended 1988
Predecessor Christopher Chavasse
Successor Michael Turnbull
Other posts Honorary assistant bishop, Canterbury (1988–2006)
Ordination 1 January 1940
Consecration 1961
Personal details
Born (1914-10-04)4 October 1914
Died 14 September 2006(2006-09-14) (aged 91)
Wye, Kent
Denomination Anglican
Parents Cdr Richard Say RNVR
Spouse Irene Rayner (d. 2003)
Children 2 sons; 2 daughters
Alma mater Christ's College, Cambridge

Richard David Say KCVO (4 October 1914 – 14 September 2006) was the Bishop of Rochester in the Church of England from 1961 to 1988. He was often noted for his height (6 ft 4in).

Early life and education[edit]

Say was the son of Commander Richard Say RNVR. He was educated at Arnold House Prep School, St John's Wood, University College School, Christ's College, Cambridge and Ridley Hall.

Ordained ministry[edit]

Say was ordained deacon in the Church of England in Canterbury Cathedral on 22 December 1939 and was ordained priest just 10 days later on 1 January 1940. He served his curacy at Croydon (then in the Diocese of Canterbury), then at St Martin-in-the-Fields (Diocese of London) where he was General Secretary of the Church of England Youth Council. He later became General Secretary of the British Council of Churches and (as a conscious disciple of William Temple and a close supporter of Bishop George Bell) an Anglican representative at World Council of Churches conferences. He retired from those roles in 1955 to parish ministry in Hatfield (with the linked office of chaplain to the Marquess of Salisbury).

After his consecration as bishop in 1961, Say took a seat in the House of Lords from 1969 to 1988 (speaking there in 1986 on the admission of women into Holy Orders as deacons) and for some years deputised for the Archbishop of Canterbury as chairman of the board of governors of the Church Commissioners. He also spoke in General Synod in favour of church marriages for divorcés (1983) and of Anglican-Methodist reunion.

Later life[edit]

On retirement as Bishop of Rocherster (he was one of the last bishops not required to retire at 70, whilst the final words at his retirement service being “Alleluia — on we go”) he moved to Wye, where he was active in the parish and was an honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of Canterbury until shortly before his death.

Say supported the city of Rochester, Chatham, Kent County Cricket Club, the University of Kent (serving as Pro Chancellor for several years) and, more recently, Canterbury itself. He was also for 18 years High Almoner to the Queen. He was honorary chaplain of the Pilgrims Society from 1968 till 2002.[1]

Death and legacy[edit]

On Say's death, the Bishop of Dover, Stephen Venner, said:

I was privileged to benefit from Bishop David's advice and friendship over the years. Even when I saw him a few days before he died, he typically ministered to me as much as I to him.[citation needed]

Say's funeral service was celebrated in the nave of Canterbury Cathedral on 27 September 2006 and a public memorial service was held on 2 February 2007 in Rochester Cathedral (with a sermon by the then Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali). His wife Irene was a JP and gardener who died in 2003. They had a son and two daughters, all of whom survived them.


  • He believed the greatest danger to the Church of England was concentrating “on laundering our surplices” and forgetting its true mission, which was "from Corrymeela to Calcutta, washing the world’s feet”.[citation needed]
  • “God is the God of the future as well as of the past.”[citation needed]


  1. ^ Robert Worcester (September 28, 2006). "Bishop David Say - Lives remembered". The Times. 

External links[edit]

Church of England titles
Preceded by
Christopher Chavasse
Bishop of Rochester
Succeeded by
Michael Turnbull