GORDON Tuck, a hugely respected senior pastor of Testwood Baptist Church in Totton, has died suddenly at the age of 64.
An inspirational figure, news of Gordon’s sudden passing was met with an outpouring of goodwill both for his family and community of his church, where he served for 22 years.
After arriving at Testwood in 1998 with his wife Janice and their three children, Gordon oversaw significant growth as the congregation expanded from 100 to up to about 600 with a thriving staff team.
Known for his wisdom, sense of humour and love for people, Gordon was skilled at explaining his belief in how the faith in Jesus Christ applies to everyday life.
The Baptist church opened its extended building in Salisbury Road in 2008, from where Gordon continued to preach to an even wider audience during lockdown with services streamed online.
With restrictions briefly lifted, he was delighted to preach to face-to-face for the first time in seven months on 25th October, when he was applauded after speaking as passionately as ever.
Tragically, Gordon suffered a heart attack two days later and never regained consciousness. He died on 7th November.
The family have expressed gratitude for the expert care from the intensive care unit staff at Southampton General Hospital and the knowledge that his legacy lives on through the many lives he touched.
Born in Rettendon, Essex, to Paul and Audrey Tuck, Gordon grew up in Blandford Forum, Dorset, on the farm his dad managed, before moving to Southampton to work for Ordnance Survey.
After working in farm building design, he felt called to move to “building faith” instead. So in 1979 he started three years of study in applied theology at Moorlands Bible College at Sopley, where he met Janice.
They were married in 1982 and began their ministry at Blandford Evangelical Church, Gordon’s home church, where he served as associate pastor for 12 years.
That included an invaluable job exchange with a church in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1992.
Remarkably, it was made possible by Gordon’s mum winning them a holiday to Australia via a KitKat competition.
“It was an example of God’s amazing provision,” said Janice. “It was going to cost loads of money that we didn’t have, but a letter arrived saying we’d won a 10-day Christmas holiday to Australia.
“We thought it was a scam or someone was winding us up, but the prize covered all our costs as a family and we were able to stop over for a year in New Zealand on the way back!
“We learnt a lot from a church that had an incredible outreach to its local community.”
After returning to the UK, Gordon served for four years as senior pastor of Woodford Baptist Church in north-east London, before the family moved to Totton.
There he led his congregation to play a significant role in the local community including hosting the annual Totton Family Fun Day at Testwood recreation ground, as well as the development of Youth and Families Matter and the Basics Bank that has served so many people during this difficult year.
A passionate family man, Gordon was always keen to talk about his love for Janice, his wife of 38 years, and the rest of his family, including grandchildren Olivia, Lewis, Zac, Molly, Isla and Maisie.
Sport played a big role in Gordon’s life. As a cricket lover he was chairman of Swan Green Cricket Club for several years and was a lifelong supporter of AFC Bournemouth.
Other interests included photography, which he combined with his love for the natural world, exploring the local area, walking and holidays in Europe.
As well as Janice and his grandchildren, Gordon is survived by his father Paul, brother Ralph, sister Heather, children Neil, Andy and Lindsey, daughter-in-law Laura and son-in-law Andy.
A service of thanksgiving for Gordon’s life is planned when gathering restrictions are lifted.