According to e-mail reports obtained from The Ark Community he founded, three teams of surgeons tried to save Bishop Palmer's life but he passed away in the evening, leaving behind his wife Emiliana and two teenaged children. Bishop Palmer was in his early 50s, and grew up in South Africa, though recently he had been living in England.
The bishop recently facilitated an historic private meeting of evangelical and charismatic leaders June 24 with Pope Francis at the Holy Father’s residence inside the Vatican. The two had become friends when Palmer was doing ecumenical work with charismatic Catholics in Buenos Aires.
World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) global ambassador Brian Stiller was among the leaders present at the June meeting with Pope Francis.
“Tony was a most remarkable young man,” he said in an e-mail. “I so well remember his gracious and active leadership in bringing members of the World Evangelical Alliance together in conversation with Pope Francis late June.
“However, with his life and witness still fresh in our memory, I believe it is important that we carry on, as he would have desired, finding ways for our major Christian bodies to have friendship and to understand our respective communions,” said Stiller, who headed the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada for 16 years.
Bruno Ierullo, Catch the Fire founding member and pastor of its Newmarket, Ont., campus, knew Bishop Palmer for seven years and worked with him in a worldwide movement called United in Christ that brings Catholics and evangelicals together. He said he was “distraught” to hear of his death.
“He was a remarkable guy, a very sensitive, extremely forgiving and loving man,” said Ierullo. “It will be a great loss for the Kingdom, a just outstanding man of faith.”
Bishop Palmer had also been invited to Rome to work with Catholic charismatics there in unity efforts that had the blessings of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
Bishop Palmer and Ierullo were among headline speakers lined up for an ecumenical conference in Ottawa Aug. 28-31 called Fire and Fusion. Pierre Hogle, who is organizing Fire and Fusion with a team from Lift Jesus Higher, a Catholic charismatic community in Ottawa, said they expect the conference will go ahead.
“There’s a whole network of people all across the world who have this cause of unity in their heart,” said Hogle. “I think right now they are totally devastated.”