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Mourners say farewell to 'lion-hearted' priest
HUNDREDS of people gathered in East Oxford to mourn a “lion-hearted” priest who led the city’s Indian Punjabi Christian movement for nearly 50 years.
The Rev Masih Dass Gill died on Saturday, June 9, at the age of 90 after suffering with a heart condition.
Yesterday his funeral was held at the Cowley Road Methodist Church where he led his congregation for half a century.
The church itself was so full with mourners that a second room had been made available with a TV link to the ceremony.
Addressing the congregation, his son Afzal Gill said: “He was a brave man and had the heart of a lion.
“Some children learn from their dads a love of football or other sports, some people learn a love for hunting or fishing and some develop a love of cars. My dad never had a passion for football, hunting or cars.
“There is a passion that he had transferred to me and my brothers and sisters and that was a passion for the word of God. Every day I am grateful for that gift that my father passed to us, especially on a day like today.”
“He was a spiritual father to many and will be sorely missed.”
The ceremony started after a cortege made up of family vehicles made its way from Mr Gill’s home in Buckler Road, Cutteslowe, at 10.30am.
A congregation of about 200 people sang psalms in Punjabi and listened to readings by members of his family.
Mr Gill was born in 1922 and preached Christianity even as a child.
He worked in Singapore, Burma and Karachi with the British Army and US Air Force before coming to Oxfordshire in the 1950s.
He worked at the USAF base at RAF Upper Heyford near Bicester and in 1967, with the help of Minister Joe Gibbons, set up a weekly church service at the Cowley Road Methodist Church for the Indian Punjabi community.
The Rev Dr Martin Wellings, who led the service and is minister at the church on the corner of Jeune Street, said: “We thank God for Dass’s commitment.
“He was a whole-hearted Christian and we will all have brought our own memories here today.
“I will remember him as an honoured colleague and a good friend.”
Mr Gill leaves his wife Shila, five children Afzal, James, Emmanuel, Ruth and Mary, 13 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
The funeral service was followed by burial at Wolvercote Cemetery.