Tributes have been paid to Custom House clergyman the Rev Chris Hanson who died days after he was cleared of allegations of historical abuse.
The father of two, aged 63, who preached at the Ascension Church, is understood to have suffered from a severe form of arthritis which had left him unable to see. He was admitted to Newham General Hospital where he died on Sunday, August 21.
Friends of Rev Hanson say he was innocent of the claims made against him following his arrest by detectives in June. He was on police bail and suspended “without prejudice” from his Church of England duties by the Diocese of Chelmsford.
A close friend, the Rev Barry Scott, said: “Rev Chris Hanson has been in poor health for such a long time, but his death was a shock to us who love him as a friend and a brother in Christ.
“My dear friend’s daughters will know that their loving father was cleared of all charges. His family are heartbroken and trying to find out the reason for his death.”
Mr Hanson was born in 1948 and spent the early part of his career as a baker and confectioner before serving in the RAF.
Afterwards, he studied at Birmingham Bible Institute before serving as a curate, deacon and priest in various locations.
He collected a Bachelor of Theology degree from Oxford University in 2002 and he was the vicar of the Ascension Church in Victoria Docks from 2008 until his death.
A spokesman for Chelmsford Diocese said: “The Rev Chris Hanson served as a Church of England priest for more than 20 years. Unfortunately for much of his time at the Ascension Church in our diocese he was in poor health.
“However, he ministered to many people and was a familiar presence in the local community.”
Area Dean of Newham, Rev Canon Dave Wade, said: “I will remember Chris as a gifted preacher and evangelist who was passionate about his faith in Jesus Christ. Chris enjoyed his ministry at the Ascension Church, a place where he will be remembered with love and affection.
“Chris’ death has come as a great shock to the Deanery. We are holding both Chris’ family and the Ascension Church in our prayers and seeking to help and support as much as we can.”
Last year he led a successful campaign to save a Custom House woman who was facing death from deportation.
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