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A Tribute to David Streater (1933-2017)

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Posted by Michael Walters, 20 Mar 2017

Michael Walters pays tribute to the former Director of Church Society, David Streater, who died earlier this month.

Members of Church Society will be saddened to hear of the recent death of the Revd David Streater who was Director of the Society 1991 – 1998.

Having trained for ordained ministry at Oak Hill College, he served as Curate of Lindfield (a parish of which the Church Society Trust is Patron) for three years from 1968. He then served in South Africa for 15 years, returning to England to become Rector of Kingham with Churchill, Daylesford and Sarsden in 1986. After this period as an Incumbent, David became Director of Church Society, and on retirement ‘House for Duty’ minister at Odell.
When I first met David I was involved in the work of the Church Society Trust. He first struck me as a stereotypical ‘parson’, someone who, were I a layman, I would have been glad to have as my Vicar. He was warm, and genuinely interested in people; forthright but in no way over-bearing.

As time went by, his love for the Church of England and his clear grasp of the doctrines of the Reformation became apparent. These attributes are clearly seen in the articles David wrote for Churchman, as is his comprehensive grasp of church history. David deals with current controversies in the Church of England and urges that evangelicals should humbly but clearly maintain the supreme authority of the Scriptures in all matters. His articles include:

Newman’s Doctrine – Development Or Deviation?
Renaissance and Reformation
An English Prayer Book for Today?
Justification by Faith: Yesterday and Today
The Significance of John Calvin Today
All One Body We: A Personal Opinion of Establishment, Voluntarism, Connectionalism and Independency

These Churchman articles reveal a man who loves the Lord and his people, a man who has read widely and kept in touch with current affairs in church and state, a man who is sad that secularist views are now in the ascendant in our country, and longs to see a return to a nation and church living under God’s word.

In an important address entitled ‘Vox Populi, Vox Dei? Democracy and the Church’ given at the 1995 conference of the Protestant Reformation Society, and printed in Churchman, David begins as follows:

“The Protestant churches which originated in the break from Rome in the sixteenth century are today showing dangerous and alarming liberal tendencies, not the least of which is to equate the process of democracy with the revelation of God’s will.”     

There follows a masterly survey of church-state relations from apostolic times to the present day evaluating the different models of handling the relationship which have existed. He sees the ‘established church’ model which emerged in England as owing a great deal to the influence of John Calvin, but reflecting on the situation in the mid-1990s concludes:

“Democracy is only the answer if it is a biblical democracy; for the Church this involves an overt acknowledgement that its responsibilities are exercised within the framework of a theocracy. From General Synod to PCC it means seeking to apply in practice biblical precepts instead of substituting whatever current position can be ‘justified’ by a majority vote.”

I give thanks to God for David’s gracious and firm leadership of Church Society, for a man who followed his Lord in being ‘full of grace and truth.’

Michael Walters is a former Church Society Council member and director of the Church Society Trust.

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