The priority of the Gospel

Erroll was brought up in a very privileged and nominally Christian family in South Africa. An only child of loving parents, his father was a gifted architect, who ended up leading major projects, and his mother was a highly successful business woman, who owned a flourishing photography business.

As a youngster Erroll was an accomplished athlete, competing at a high level. He studied architecture at Pretoria University (using the Afrikaans language). His great friend David Cowan, a fellow architect, witnessed to him and invited him to an evangelistic service at Pretoria Baptist Church in 1953. Erroll was powerfully converted. At the same time, his fiancée, Lynette was clearly converted when the Lord convicted her during a mighty thunderstorm. They covenanted together to live for the Lord; to meet with his people morning and evening each Lord’s Day, and never, if they could possibly help it, to miss the midweek prayer meeting. They married in 1954, and right through their lives they endeavoured to keep this solemn covenant.

Ever since his conversion, Erroll’s passion to witness to others and his confidence in the gospel never waned.

In 1962, Erroll was called to his first pastorate at Cuckfield Baptist Church. During the 1940s and 1950s, the membership had declined to just one member. In 1956 a letter was sent to the pastor of The Tabernacle, Strict Baptist Church in Brighton asking whether the church would be prepared to attempt a work of revival in Cuckfield. Erroll believed, with his fellow worker in the church restoration project, Stanley Hogwood, that the work should be built through conversions. They believed in prayer and they believed in action.

Evangelistic activity included door to door work, open air preaching and constantly working on contemporary and relevant evangelistic literature to deliver around the village. Most powerful was the regular exposition of Scripture and the preaching of the gospel week by week. The preaching was anointed through the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of many who were saved during these years.

On a personal level, Erroll witnessed very naturally to neighbours and others he met. He has always sought to witness when on planes. He took the opportunity of meeting Nelson Mandela at Johannesburg airport, engaging with him graciously in a conversation lasting about fifteen minutes – and reminding him of the need for salvation through grace. Erroll has continued to be eager to share the good news with those who have cared for him in later years. His enthusiasm has always been infectious.

Erroll became committed to the Doctrines of Grace, and he was equally passionate about the Free Offer of the Gospel. He strongly resisted the dangers of ‘Hyper-Calvinism’. One of hymns we often used to sing at Cuckfield was: ‘Come ye sinners’.

The Concert of Prayer for Revival

In the early days at Cuckfield, in addition to the weekly Wednesday prayer meeting, a highlight of church life was the ‘cottage prayer meeting’ on Saturday nights. We met in homes to pray for conversions on the Lord’s Day. The Lord heard and answered many of those prayers and we saw remarkable conversions. There was a spirit of great expectancy, urgency and trust in those meetings. We also had Saturday morning prayer meetings to pray for revival.

In 1990, Erroll joined with Glyn Williams of Tinshill Church, Leeds, and they tried to stir up support for a ‘concert of prayer for revival’. At that time there was little interest. Since 2011, a good number of churches especially in the North-East have responded to this call and meet to pray regularly for God’s blessing in our nation and internationally, and the leadership of this concert of prayer has passed on to Jonathan Bayes and others.

Passion for God-centred and God-honouring church life

Erroll and Lyn were both converted in the context of an Arminian Baptist church in Pretoria. They were grateful for the absolute devotion to the Lord and emphasis on a consecrated life of that church.

But when they came over to London in 1954, they were thrilled to come under the teaching of Ernest Kevan at London Bible College, and under the preaching of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel. And they read voraciously. Erroll testifies: ‘it was reading the recently published commentary by Robert Haldane on Romans in five volumes, that cured me completely of Arminianism. By the end of Romans chapter three I was a firm five-point Calvinist’.

A formative friendship was with lain Murray. lain had founded the Banner of Truth Trust with the aim of reprinting great Reformed literature. Erroll was appointed as the Business Manager. Many other significant and lasting friendships were forged during those years, including with Humphrey Mildred and Roger Hodgkinson.

The sea change in embracing the Doctrines of Grace was like a Copernican revolution for Erroll and Lyn. Both fought against it. They had been taught that Calvinists hated the gospel and evangelism! But they were compelled by Scripture to change their views.

They had been involved in evangelistic tours around Europe with the Nurses’ Christian Fellowship. This organisation operated at that time as a ‘Faith Mission’. When they explained their change of views to the Fellowship they were effectively expelled. Many former friends shunned them. This was a very painful time, but they had to be true to Scripture as they understood it.

Erroll and Lyn had both worked as counsellors in some of the great London Crusades of Billy Graham. Both had been involved in open air evangelism back in South Africa and in Europe, but they came to be disillusioned with the invitation system. Back in South Africa they had found that when they delivered the invitation to ‘come to the front’ to make a decision, the same people kept coming back again and again. In the case of the Billy Graham crusades, without doubting the fact that some were genuinely converted, they found from the follow-up work that they did personally that the dropout rate was high; and as Erroll looked carefully into the follow-up work of others, he found they had the same experience.

Erroll and Lyn began to question the need to invite people to ‘come forward’. They believed that that could plant false expectation of assurance. Dad’s first book, Billy Graham: The Pastor’s Dilemma was a compelling critique of the invitation system, which incorporated a strong apologetic for the biblical and Reformation doctrine of the ‘bondage of the will’ with regard to salvation.

This was an extremely controversial topic and his book attracted attention from the national secular press as well as the religious press.

A Believers Church made up of Baptised Believers

Erroll was blessed to minister at Cuckfield Chapel for twenty-three years. He was absolutely committed to the local church.

Erroll and Lyn dearly loved the church family. They loved the Lord’s Day as the day when the church family met together. They loved the prayer meeting, as the time the church family met to speak with their Father in Heaven. They never regarded the local church as a ‘preaching centre’ where the minister ‘does the ministry’ and members merely listen. Erroll’s convictions about believer’s baptism meshed with his convictions about the local church being made up of believers who have a credible profession of faith, who covenant together to love and serve God and their fellow members. He wrote several books on this theme, including The Testimony of Baptism. His booklet Baptism and Church Membership has been widely used to introduce new believers to these truths in many churches. He also edited a series of books gathering together papers given at the annual Carey Ministers Conference. He founded this along with others in 1970, as a meeting place for Reformed Baptist church leaders.

When Erroll took over the editorship of the magazine the Christian’s Pathway, he quickly moved to transform this into Reformation Today, a much more contemporary magazine promoting Reformed Baptist truths in a fresh and relevant way.

He then networked with Reformed Baptists internationally, and travelled widely to encourage the planting of Reformed Baptist churches in places as far afield as Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Cameroon, Southern Africa and Argentina. He also supported the planting of churches locally. Cuckfield sent out elders to plant a church in Crawley.

Biblical worship

Erroll was not an exclusive Psalm-singer, but he was passionate about the mandate to sing Psalms in worship, and he spent a great deal of time in collaboration with David Preston to that end. They published Book of Praises – Psalms for Today.

Many of David Preston’s renderings of the Psalms were then incorporated into PRAISE hymnbook. This offers a fresh rendition of all the Psalms, making each one accessible in a new way to congregations today. Erroll was a great admirer of PRAISE hymnbook.

Erroll was always passionate about the value and benefit of the Lord’s Day. He saw a day of rest as the Creator’s good gift to all people; and in particular he saw it as a means of grace to believers – the ‘market day of the soul’. He believed that the day should begin and end with worship and sitting under the Word of God.

He believed that God speaks in a living way through his Word, and through his Word preached. He did not think that the preacher had done his work if he merely delivered a ‘Bible lesson’ or teaching slot. He believed that biblical preaching is when truth comes alive and is delivered with authority and passion and Holy Spirit power (the old term for this is ‘unction’).

The rest of the Lord’s Day he believed should be given over to ministering to others – especially through hospitality. In the Cuckfield days the Hogwoods were sterling examples of generous open hospitality, especially on Sundays. But Erroll and Lyn, all through their lives, were hugely hospitable as well.

Passion for Biblical World View

God’s sovereignty extends to all of life. Erroll believed in Kuyper’s vision of Reformed Christianity: that Christ is King over every square inch of life. Biblical Christianity has something to say to art, architecture, music – all of life. He was a great admirer of Francis Schaeffer, and helped organise the key Schaeffer trip to the UK to promote the film series Whatever Happened to the Human Race? and How should we then live? These were  formative in turning Evangelicals away from the rather pietistic and withdrawn attitude that had characterised the period up to the 1970s.

In the 1960s an extremely permissive lobby was starting to introduce explicit sex education into schools. Erroll took the lead in Sussex in campaigning against this. He worked with our local doctor, not himself a Christian, but a man of good will who saw clearly what pernicious effects such sex education would have.

Erroll was a great supporter of the Christian Institute since its formation, and engaged regularly in a friendly and consistent way with his local MP.

He was committed to the truth of biblical creation. He loved travel, wildlife, and all aspects of God’s good creation including sport and music.

Conviction that Christ is King of all the Earth – Missionary Passion

Like many of the Puritans, Erroll was utterly confident that God is going to glorify his name by the extension of the Kingdom of Christ in all nations. He pleaded the promises of God in prayer.

‘The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’ (Hab 2:14).

‘”My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD Almighty’ (Mal 1:11).

I remember the very first edition of Operation World, and Erroll’s excitement when it arrived. He was committed to using it every day. He has remained faithful. During these later years he has literally worn out several copies of this prayer manual for the nations. Right through his life he would quiz his children and grandchildren on the nations of the world and in later years, his carers and nurses didn’t escape! He quizzed them too with enormous good humour.

He loved those Psalms which point to the Kingship of Christ, especially Psalms 2, 72 and 110. Favourite hymns, often sung during his pastorate at Cuckfield included ‘Hail to the Lord’s Anointed’ and ‘Jesus shall reign’ (both from Psalm 72).

He believed that God’s honour and Christ’s Kingship demands that many from all nations will eventually turn to Christ. And he never wavered in his conviction that many Jews will ultimately be converted; his second book was The Restoration of Israel. Erroll loved and enjoyed all of his friend Iain Murray’s books as they appeared, but one of his favourites was The Puritan Hope.

He travelled widely. On average he crossed the Atlantic twice every year during the key thirty-five or so years of his ministry. He believed that biblical churches should be planted in every nation. He was active in convening the first meeting of the International Fellowship of Reformed Baptists in Toronto.

Erroll was always willing to ‘rough it’, he travelled in harsh conditions in places like Nigeria and Cameroon. Straight after Lyn was taken home to glory, he travelled to South Africa to take his part in some African Pastors Conferences. This was where his heart was.

African Pastors’ Conferences

I believe that time will show that the most strategic part of Erroll’s ministries was the inauguration of the APCs. During Lyn’s long years of illness he not only cared for her, but would often work through the night on the APCs.

The vision was to use godly and gifted African pastors and preachers to deliver high quality training to African pastors in all the different ethnic groupings, in their own language, in culturally sensitive ways, and at an absolutely affordable price. Conferences now take place regularly in over forty locations in Southern Africa, and huge quantities of excellent Reformed and appropriate literature have been sold at minimal price.

Erroll remained passionate about this work right up until the end of his life, and was always eager for detailed reports of each conference.

The gift of encouragement

Many from all over the world have contacted the family to say that for them Erroll was ‘the great encourager’. His constant instinct to encourage sprang from the way that he constantly prayed for others. Having prayed for them, he was then prompted to phone, write, email, visit or phone: sometimes at unearthly hours. Erroll needed little sleep, and always innocently assumed that others would be awake at the same time as he was.

He truly wanted others to know the joy of knowing God and the thrill of serving wholeheartedly. His encouragement was not sentimental. It could take the form of challenging questions, giving out good books to read, offering to cover costs of helpful  conferences, spurring others to stretch themselves in using undiscovered gifts and abilities, and, especially, offering opportunities to serve. Such challenges were invariably offered with enthusiasm and humour.

A positive spirit

Erroll was relentlessly optimistic, and hugely energetic. Right through the difficult years, as Lyn suffered increasingly with Alzheimer’s disease, his love for her enabled him in a remarkable way to slow his pace in order to care for her, which he did with ongoing good humour.

As soon as Lyn was taken to glory in September 2013, Erroll’s immediate instinct was to throw himself back into active ministry. He went straight over to South Africa to take his place preaching for the African Pastors’ Conferences. It was there, in November 2013, that he suffered a massive stroke which left him paralysed down one side for the rest of his life.

For such an active man to be totally dependent on others for care was hard to witness. But friends and family were inspired by his contentment, his acceptance of God’s sovereignty, and his ongoing positive spirit. Friends and family were enormously grateful for the excellent and loving care he received, especially in the final year and four months from the staff at Wetherby Manor.

His church family at Emmanuel Church Leeds (formerly Leeds Reformed Baptist Church) were faithful in visiting and encouraging him, as were many other Christian friends, including those from Tinshill Free Church Leeds and many from further afield. He was always eager for news of the APCs, and loved sections of Operation World to be shared for prayer.

Love for the Triune God

Erroll was truly blessed with sixty years of marriage to Lyn, a gentle, compassionate and godly wife and mother. They were loving parents to us four children. They were deeply caring of our various other family members. They were good friends to many.

But above all else, Erroll loved the Triune God. He was incredibly active. But his faith was not just about activity, he was absolutely committed to sound doctrine. His faith was not just academic, it was a heart passion. He wrote The Believer’s Experience and Crisis Experiences to refute the claim that Reformed Christians do not emphasise religious experience. Both these books developed a positive biblical and practical treatment of genuine religious experience.

He loved the work of John Owen on Union and Communion with the Triune God, and wrote a popular length summary of that, which is freely available online through the Chapel Library. I remember a highlight of the early Cuckfield days was Dad’s weekly expositions of the Song of Solomon, with the theme of a personal and profound love for the Lord Jesus, and a sense that that love is truly reciprocated.

He is now with the Lord whom he loved so dearly.

Sharon James


Chapel Library USA provides free online resources, including several booklets by Erroll Hulse (click on the title to go directly to the resource):

Fellowship with the Trinity is a short summary of John Owen’s Union and Communion

Let’s Pray for Global Revival is a call to prayer for God to be gloried in every nation

The vital place of the prayer meeting

Links to other tributes by:

Pastor Conrad Mbewe, Zambia:

           Erroll Hulse (1931–2017)—The End Of An Era

Dr Tom Nettles, USA:

           Erroll Hulse (1931-2017), A Beautifully Proportioned Life