Leigh Barry Powell, beloved husband, father, pastor, professor, friend and brother in Christ to many was taken home to heaven to be with His Saviour on September 6th, 2023, after a long battle with cancer and dementia. He leaves behind his beloved wife of 60 years, Miriam, son Timothy and his wife Betty, son Christopher and his wife Valerie and grandchildren Hannah, Noah, Abigail and Benjamin, and son-in-law Paul Ryberg and grandchildren Daniel and Elizabeth, even as he has now joined their mother (his daughter), Rachel, in the presence of Jesus.
Leigh was born in Barnehurst, England, the fourth of seven children (he is survived by his brother Eddie and two sisters Nicky and Diane) in 1936. He grew up in his home during the Second World War except for a brief period In 1944 when, as a young boy, he was evacuated with his sisters briefly to Yorkshire before returning home. As a teenager he left home to study librarianship at Leeds and started his first career as a librarian, ending up working as an adult in Whitehall in London at the India Office. While working at the India Office, his older brother Christopher convinced him to go with him to church at Westminster Chapel on a Friday evening in 1959 for a bible study. Having much disdain for Christianity but wanting a ride home for the weekend, he went. Leigh grew up nominally Anglican, but he had turned away and was scornful of Christians as being intellectually foolish and reliant on a crutch. Despite this, he was captivated by a bible passage preached by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones ("the Doctor") that turned the tables on him as it called Christians to "gird up the loins of our mind." God transformed and saved him that weekend. He opened his eyes to the reality of his own slavery to sin and his foolish confidence in his own intellect without God His Creator and Saviour.
It was while volunteering his spare time at the Evangelical Library in London in the early days of the Banner of Truth that he met his future Canadian wife who also had started attending Westminster Chapel. They were ultimately married by Dr. Lloyd-Jones with Dr. William Fitch in Toronto at Knox Presbyterian Church on September 7, 1963.
As a Christian and ultimately a pastor, Leigh was righteous in a really humble, "God-fearing" way. He was always meditating on Scripture as a way of life for him, and like Psalm 1 says, as a result he prospered and flourished spiritually and helped others to do so around him. He loved preaching that exalted Jesus Christ and pointed others to Him as the way, the truth and the life. He didn't want useless or boring preaching - he sought to encourage the many ministers he trained to convey the powerful transforming joy of biblical Christianity. He wanted people to know the hope, the joy and the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
After graduating from Westminster Seminary in 1971 and being ordained in the Fellowship of Baptist Churches at Melrose Baptist Church in Toronto, Leigh worked hard to lay a good and faithful foundation ultimately resigning from Melrose to plant Covenant Baptist Church as a house church almost 50 years ago in February 1974. Around the same time he became the professor of Systematic Theology at Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College where he served for some 23 years. He also helped lay the foundations for the Sovereign Grace Fellowship of Baptist Churches in Canada with Pastors William (Bill) Payne and Roger Fellows. Despite his close involvement, he also was willing to take difficult and costly stands for the Gospel in both of those organizations in tumultuous times. His heart was always in the local church where he pastored, often refusing opportunities to build his own reputation in order to serve the people God called him to shepherd.
He was a loving father to Timothy, Rachel and Christopher and grandfather to Hannah, Noah, Abigail, Benjamin, Daniel and Elizabeth. As a loving father, he took his children out every Friday to the library when they were young and built their love for books and education. All three of his children pursued degrees in education and taught in various contexts. He had a great sense of humour and was very loving with his children and his beloved bride Miriam. As a married couple, they were inseparable, and their marriage was a constant source of joy and mutual love and service to each other and their family and church family over the 60 years of their marriage. He also loved the church and his church family. His relationship to the church wasn't a professional relationship – it was a family relationship. A family that was always expanding as he and his wife added many brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters from different families and cultures that became a part of our extended family.
As a family, we will miss him very much. His favourite bible text that he spoke about over and over was Philippians 1:21 "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." He lived a life of love for the Lord Jesus Christ, and now we rejoice that he truly has his gain even as we experience a deep sense of loss.
If desired, donations may be made to the Covenant Baptist Church and or the Bladder Cancer Canada charity. Links are below
Please note that the service at the church and the Cemetery will be live streamed. See below for the livestream link