Bishop John was born in 1955 and educated at Kent College followed by a chemistry degree from St. Chads College, Durham. He then taught chemistry at Lancing College in Sussex, to which he later returned as a chaplain. He is married to Denise, and they have two daughters.
He studied at the College of the Resurrection in Mirfield, Yorkshire and was ordained deacon in 1983 and priest in 1984 in the Diocese of Chichester. He became one of the Lords Spiritual in June this year. He serves on the Faith and Order Commission (FAOC) of the General Synod and has served on the Council of Ridley Hall College, Cambridge since 2008. The Crockford’s entry reads as follows:
|+INGE, The Rt Revd John Geoffrey. b 55. St Chad’s Coll Dur BSc77 MA94 PhD02 Keble Coll Ox PGCE79. Coll of Resurr Mirfield. d 84 p 85 c 03. Asst Chapl Lancing Coll 84-86; Jun Chapl Harrow Sch 86-89; Sen Chapl 89-90; V Wallsend St Luke Newc 90-96; Can Res Ely Cathl 96-03; Vice-Dean 99-03; Suff Bp Huntingdon 03-07; Bp Worc from 07|
Mission and Evangelism
This is a recurring motif in Bishop John’s ministry, which is reinforced by the diocesan website, which has a special tab devoted to the subject:
As a Diocese we are committed to mission in every aspect, seeking to bring the good news of God’s love in Jesus to all who live in our cities, towns and villages, and to make the gospel relevant to their everyday lives. In putting mission first we are currently focusing on three areas of mission:
- The deepening of our prayer
- The renewal of our public worship
- The equipping of people to share their faith
By so doing, we hope and pray that our churches will display the hallmarks of healthy churches which we have identified as:
- Worshipping God
- Working to rid the world of poverty
- Sharing the gospel
- Building inclusive communities
- Helping people to faith
- Caring for the earth
According to the diocesan website:
Bishop John is fascinated by international affairs and cultural variety and has taken groups to Africa (on seven occasions), India, South America, Russia and the Holy Land. He has also fostered Indian and African links with the Diocese of Ely. He is a longstanding member of the World Development Movement and Amnesty International. Bishop John is a trustee of Common Purpose, an international organisation that helps people in leadership and decision-making positions in the private, public and voluntary sectors to be more effective in their own organisations, in the community and in society as a whole.
I do not know whether this is an interest of Bishop John’s, or whether it is simply an area of diocesan expertise which he inherited. But it is the only diocese I have so far seen to say that ‘help [is offered] for those who feel they may be haunted, cursed or oppressed‘. However, perhaps the reference to ‘this phenomena’ (phenomenon, please!) indicates that he has not focused on this page.
His book A Christian Theology of Place (Ashgate, 2003) was short listed for the Michael Ramsey Prize for Theological Writing. His latest book Living Love: In Conversation with the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Inspire, 2007) looks at the Christian message contained within the series of novels by Alexander McCall Smith’s.
He is Chairman of the board of The College of Evangelists, which says it ‘exists to recognise and affirm evangelists whose ministry is nationwide or at least beyond the confines of any diocese’. Evangelists as opposed to Evangelicals, presumably. Mirfield, his alma mater, is generally thought to be High Church.
The chapel of Lancing College is a splendid, soaring building, which dominates the surrounding countryside. I think it is a reasonable inference from his service as chaplain, both here and at Harrow, that Bishop John’s natural habitat is the top of the candle, but other than this circumstantial evidence, can find no proof one way or another.
He voted in favour of the Anglican Covenant, as did his suffragan, but his diocese voted overwhelmingly against. All the representatives from Worcester Diocese voted in favour of adjourning the debate to reconsider amendment 5.1.c, the way those in favour of women bishops in general voted.
Leap in the dark assessment
A David to match all those Goliaths?
In trying to find an illustration for this post, I was unable to find one of Bishop John in which he was not smiling.
Not grinning, gently smiling. Is it too fanciful to read into this what Kenneth Clark called ‘the smile of reason’? Certainly, writing a book about the lessons to be learnt from the ‘No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ indicates a degree of twinkle.