Vale, Chris Hargreaves
These words won’t be my best. I’ve lost a dear friend.
When Chris Hargreaves passed away last month, it marked the end of a life that has touched upon a lot of people. Due to the restrictions that public memorials face on account of COVID-19 a lot of us who knew and loved Chris weren’t able to be there in Perth.
Chris was an active member of the Uniting Church. He worked as a Mission Worker at Newcastle University, was a member of the Triennial Assembly in 2012, and served as a lay preacher. He was active in youth ministry in Hunter Presbytery.
He was passionate about serving his local community, running for his local council in Perth and serving in a number of charities.
More than any of that, Chris was a memorable and quirky character. He had a sharp, quick wit, and might have honestly been the funniest person I have ever met.
I first met Chris at the School of Discipleship in Canberra. We later spent some time together at Voices for Justice 2011, lobbying politicians in support of the Millennium Development Goals. Chris contacted me shortly before the event and was genuinely excited that we were being billeted together.
Later, when my wife, Sarah, and I helped run an evening service at Blaxland Uniting Church, we invited Chris to preach and he would stay at our place afterwards. On one of these occasions, John Binny told me that the church could pay for Chris’ long commute down from Newcastle, because “He’s come a long way and he’s an interesting guy.”
Chris later moved to Perth, but that didn’t stop him from keeping in touch with people here.
I spent many a late-night talking to him online about theology or politics. Oftentimes, he wouldn’t bother saying hi, he would simply launch into the latest happening or send me poll data.
Then there was the night he was arrested.
One night in January 2013 Sarah and I were set to meet up with a few friends in a Melbourne bar. Chris was very late, and we decided to go elsewhere when the place we were in closed up.
When I texted Chris to tell him about the new location, he replied to tell me, “I’ll see you there. Sorry I’m late. I got arrested.”
It turned out that police wanted to speak to another Chris Allan Hargraves from another state. Far from being a hardened criminal, the Chris we knew was in the wrong place at the wrong time, running the wrong red light.
We decided to remind him about it forever, and the hashtag #chrisgotarrested was born.
Looking at Chris’ Facebook page after he passed, I see a lot of people whose lives he touched, who spoke about his natural curiosity, the generosity he showed them and the ways he encouraged them.
Then there were the jokes…
The church has lost a great disciple. We have lost a friend.
It hurts, but there is comfort in knowing that Chris will live on, in the cloud of witnesses and in the many stories everyone who knew him have to share.
Insights sends condolences to Chris Hargreaves’ family and loved ones.
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