Christian Institute founder Colin Hart dies at age 60: 'A servant-hearted man'

The Christian Institute founder Colin Hart
The Christian Institute founder Colin Hart | The Christian Institute

The founder and director of the United Kingdom-based advocacy organization The Christian Institute, Colin Hart, died on Wednesday from complications due to a suspected heart attack at age 60. 

Founded by Hart in 1991, The Christian Institute promotes Christian principles and campaigns on public policy issues impacting the Church, such as religious freedom, assisted suicide, abortion, LGBT issues and education.

The institute has also represented Christians facing legal troubles, scoring a significant 2018 legal victory for Belfast-based bakers who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. 

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The organization announced the death through a statement from Acting Director Ciarán Kelly, who wrote that Hart was "called home by the Lord to be with Him in glory."

"He died suddenly Wednesday afternoon of a suspected heart attack," Kelly stated. "We deeply mourn this great and unexpected loss. But we do not mourn as those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13). Rather, we give thanks to God for a servant-hearted man who devoted his life to The Christian Institute in the service of his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

In the recent days following the founder's death, representatives from various Christian organizations expressed gratitude for Hart and offered prayerful words of comfort and condolences to grieving loved ones. 

The Rev. Richard Turnbull, the chairman of trustees for The Christian Institute, said in a statement that he gives "thanks for Colin's vision, gifts and life, and pray for his family and friends."

"Many of you will have known Colin and will want to offer your own thanks and prayers to the Lord. The work continues as Colin would desire. Thank you for your support. Please keep all the staff and Trustees in your prayers."

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian legal organization Christian Concern, paid tribute to Hart in a statement, stating that he was "guided by the timeless wisdom of Hebrews 12:1 'ran the race set before him with endurance.'" 

"Sometime around 1998, having returned from a two-year stint in America, I contacted Colin Hart and said, 'Colin, I think the Christian Institute could really do with a London office. What do you think? Would you consider me to run it?'" Williams said.

"Well, he never did give me an answer and that conversation became a bit of folklore between us. It was 10 years later, in 2008, that Christian Concern was incorporated," Williams added. 

"As Colin and I knew one another and worked hard in our ministry space for well over two decades, we both joked and complained at how, as we travel across the country visiting churches, people often get us and our organizations muddled up. It was often amusing to be with one another when, in style, we appeared so different and yet in substance we were not." 

Through the years she knew Hart, the spirit of love and respect developed so they could encourage one another to hold firm with their eyes fixed on Jesus and lift their teams "to see God's will done on earth as it is in Heaven." 

"The legal, political and cultural landscape of the U.K. is different because of Colin Hart's life. God has the story written and is welcoming him home. It is our loss," she said. 

Williams remembers Hart would often "joke" about how "God had not blessed him with charisma."  

"I beg to differ. Colin had true charisma. He had the deep, God-given charisma of grace. He was a serious, determined, quiet, strong and powerful leader. He was unflinching in determining a task and executing it," Williams said. 

"He was diligent and never distracted. Once he had decided on a pathway he walked it. He also displayed deep love for Jesus, service, loyalty and humility. This is why he was able to build such an effective and loyal team around him, some of whom have been with him practically all their working life. This says a huge amount about the character of the man," she continued. 

"As for me, aside from all the core qualities I've listed above, I will also remember, miss and celebrate his lovely humor, which over time became the hallmark of our times together. I was also truly impacted by the way in which he loved and honored his parents, alongside his staff and the founders of the Christian Institute." 

Along with the staff of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre, William said she will be praying for Hart's family and for the Christian Institute as they respond to the sudden and "tragic" loss.

Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days.

At this time, Hart's loved ones ask for prayers as they navigate their grieving process and additional prayers for The Christian Institute as it handles practical matters following the sudden death.

Nicole VanDyke is a reporter for The Christian Post. 

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