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The queen and the King of Kings

Elizabeth II's earthly subjects reflect on her life, their new monarch and their allegiance to a 'far more noble' ruler.

‘The Queen is dead. Long live the King.”

That’s how Patrick Boyns began his weekly video address after the death of his country’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

For Boyns, principal of the British Bible School in Peterborough, England, and for fellow members of Churches of Christ across the British Isles, those words have multiple shades of meaning. While they claim fealty to the newly named King Charles III, their true allegiance belongs to the King of Kings.

“I believe we’ve lost a great leader, one who served as a fine example of service to others,” Boyns said. “And though I may well have been counted among her many subjects, I’ve long served a far more gracious, far more noble king. The king whom I serve is one who died but now lives to die no more. He’s the one who’s been given all authority in heaven and on earth, highly exalted and given the name that is above every name.”

‘One of the most recognizable people on earth’

For the majority of members of Churches of Christ worldwide, Elizabeth is the only British monarch they’ve known. She assumed the throne at age 25 on Feb. 6, 1952, and ruled for 70 years, 214 days.

Trevor Williams delivers the final message of the workshop.

Trevor Williams delivers a closing message during the European Vision Workshop in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 2018.

“One of my earliest memories is the coronation of the queen,” Trevor Williams, a longtime minister for Churches of Christ who lives in Stapleford, England, told The Christian Chronicle. “Somehow my parents had bought a television set and our tiny house was filled with people. Following the ceremony, the whole street was closed. Tables were brought out of people’s houses and there was a huge fest and celebration with people dressed up.”

During her long reign, Elizabeth “probably became one of the most recognizable people on earth,” said John Griffiths, a minister for Churches of Christ in the United Kingdom. “The longevity of her life and reign made us think that she would always be there, a constant presence in our lives. We have never been far away from an image of her — on our coins, banknotes, stamps, and on portraits hung in public buildings.”

William Grant, a church member in Kettering, England, said that Elizabeth “embodied a real sense of devotion to her calling and provided a sense of stability during rapidly changing times.”

A few members of Churches of Christ shared stories of close encounters with the royal family. Zoobi Jones met the queen and her husband, Prince Phillip, in 1979 at Tynwald Hill on the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea. The island was celebrating the 1,000-year anniversary of its parliament.

“My main recollection was that Her Majesty was much smaller close up than I realized,” said Jones, a church member from Liverpool, England, who now operates a faith-based retreat center in France. “She spoke so lovingly and personally about her horses.”

Related: 5 facts about religion in the life of Queen Elizabeth II

The queen’s influence wasn’t limited to her subjects, Lisa Carter, an American church member, saw Elizabeth pass by during a visit to London in 1974. The queen was entertaining a visiting monarch from another country and rode in an open, golden carriage, Carter recalled.

Lisa Carter

“I was enchanted!” Carter said. “To me, she represented enormous wealth, but also grace, wisdom and the ability to seemingly make all people feel at ease with her. Right then, I decided to try develop those characteristics in my own life.”

Carter and her husband, David, recently returned to the U.S. after serving as missionaries in Panama.

The crown, the church and the new king

Elizabeth II served as supreme governor of the Church of England, a title now held by her son.

Although the beliefs and practices of Churches of Christ differ from those of the Anglican church, many Church of Christ members noted Elizabeth’s frequent use of Scripture and professions of faith in Jesus in her public addresses.

“Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith.”

“Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith,” she said in 2011. “It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.”

For many, the loss of such a well-known figure feels like the loss of a family member.

“In times of change and uncertainty we feel anxious,” Griffiths said. “We want to know that there is something we can depend upon, something to give stability to our own changing lives and circumstances. It is in times such as these that our faith in a God who does not change becomes most important.” 

‘A king who will save us’

The new king, Charles III, assumes the throne at age 73. He’s a mere three months younger than Williams, the minister noted.

“Many people know little of him,” Williams said. “I believe he is a man who has tried his best to serve this country, to demonstrate his care for nature and the environment we must all live in. He must not be underestimated. He has met most of the world leaders and wants peace and justice for all. May God grant him wisdom and strength.

“So with the people of long ago we say, ‘God save the King.’”

“So with the people of long ago we say, ‘God save the King.’”

But in the United Kingdom — and around the world — “what we really need is a king who will save us,” Boyns said. As his homeland experiences “a national feeling of irreplaceable loss” the minister is reminded of a vision the Old Testament prophet Isaiah saw after the death of Uzziah, a king of Judah.

“I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple,” the prophet says in Isaiah 6:1. Then he sees holy beings, seraphim, proclaiming “Holy, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

“No mere human king was ever able to provide all we ever really needed,” Boyns said. “We need a king who will bring salvation to a lost and dying world.”

Filed under: British Bible School British monarchy Culture England Great Britain International King Charles III King of Kings News People Queen Elizabeth II Top Stories

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