Frederick Albert Tatford (1901-1986)

Frederick Albert Tatford
(1901-1986)

While ministering in Toronto in mid-June, the Editor learned of the Home Call of Dr. Frederick A. Tatford. Only once in the 1960s in St. Louis, Missouri, was it my joy and privilege to meet and hear personally this distinguished brother and servant of Christ. Over the years we occasionally exchanged notes, primarily in connection with articles from his prolific pen which were published in “Food for the Flock” magazine. Several years ago, as our readers may recall, we published an extended series of studies by Dr. Tatford on our Lord’s “Olivet Discourse” (Matthew 24 & 25).

In view of this happy association and contact with Dr. Tatford, I thought it fitting to honor the memory of our esteemed brother by publishing a few excerpts from a recent letter from his son, Brian Tat-ford who, with his wife Helene, has so faithfully and diligently served the Lord over many, many years in France, particularly at Eau Vive Provence.

Born into a family of believers in Portsmouth, England, Frederick Albert Tatford left home while still very young to sit entrance exams for the Civil Service. God blessed him richly in his work and he had many opportunities to share his faith. In the end he became Contractors Director of the British Atomic Energy Authority, where he was involved in the same European Project as several other believers from France and elsewhere.

On one occasion he was invited as a delegate to the “famous breakfast” with the President of the United States. As the meal was about to begin, the minister who was supposed to give thanks for the food could not be found. Suddenly the remark was made: “But couldn’t Mr. Tatford be invited to ask God’s blessing in such circumstances?”

Dr. Tatford remained active in his service for the Lord right until the end, undertaking Bible teaching tours all over the world (including several visits to countries behind the Iron Curtain) and visits to missionaries in Africa. He was president of several Christian organizations, notably “The prophetic Witness Movement” and societies for evangelizing the Jewish people.

He found time to write over 70 books, many of which are Biblical commentaries, and he had just completed a revised edition of his work on Revelation, as well as the enormous task of a series of ten volumes, in cooperation with “Echoes of Service,” on the work of assembly missionaries throughout five continents.

The family of Dr. Tatford have the vivid memory of a man who loved the Word of God, with the integrity of one who in his youth often frequented Darbyite meetings and was fond of the writings of C. H. Macintosh and others, while maintaining an open and balanced attitude toward all assemblies of the Lord’s people with the burden of making God’s Word known.

Of the many tributes to his memory the following two came from among his lifelong friends:

“In the early days of the ‘Harvester’ only God, Fred and I knew the extremities to which we were brought together almost but never quite to the verge of tears. Fred never let me down and in over 50 years of fellowship he was always at hand to strengthen and cheer and he was never late with his copy!” (B. Howard Mudditt).

“I have known him for over 50 years and have always esteemed him highly for his dedication to the ministry of the Word of God. He was a man who got his priorities right in early life and he stayed that way throughout. Many will thank God for the help they received from him” (F. F. Bruce).

Having just arrived back from a refreshing holiday in Spain, where he also had some preaching engagements, Dr. Tatford was called Home on June 14th. During the early hours of that day, Mrs. Tatford realized that he was not well and by the time she had raised him in her arms he had gone to be with the Lord he so loved and longed to see.

Fittingly enough, Dr. Tatford’s last published book, It’s Never Been So Late Before, is on the theme of the Lord’s imminent return.

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) .

—The Editor