Born in Australia, I spent my earliest years in the Cook Islands where my parents were LMS missionaries. In 1970 my father was posted to the LMS London office, becoming CWM General Secretary, and I went to school and a degree in the London area. Having been accepted to train for ordination in the United Reformed Church, I was blessed with a two-year opportunity to gain wider experience by teaching in Taiwan at Tunghai University before studying theology at Mansfield College, Oxford.
In Oxford I met and married Jenny. We moved to Halifax, West Yorkshire for my first pastorate in a group of four churches heavily involved in community work and unemployment training in 1992. It was whilst doing my MA in Contextual Missiology at the URC’s Northern College, Manchester, that I really began to develop my art alongside ministry. My dissertation was an art installation exploring the Lord’s Prayer as a call to mission. Hopes of becoming a CWM missionary family didn’t pan out and, instead, we moved with our two young boys to a URC pastorate in Hertfordshire for five years. That was where I began painting much more seriously. In 2005 I was appointed Director of Pastoral Studies at the URC’s Westminster College, Cambridge. I taught a wide range of practical courses around pastoral care, liturgy, preaching and mission. I also began to develop programmes up to master’s level and beyond exploring the interactions between the visual arts and theology.
In 2014 I became Principal of Westminster College, helping to oversee its complete transformation into a Resource Centre for Learning for the whole Church with redeveloped facilities, accommodation, and new programmes. In the summer of 2020, we moved to Bristol as I took up my present post. Here I minister to a reasonably large suburban congregation in Bristol (70% of my time) and also to a smaller congregation about 12 miles away in the market town of Thornbury (30% of my time). I am actively involved in ecumenical work in both places and am beginning to be more fully involved in the life of the wider URC in the South Western Synod. I write regularly for the URC’s devotional materials and my art is increasingly part of what I try to share as we explore faith and mission in today’s and tomorrow’s worlds.
I have also, more recently, tried to learn more of and from CWM and other reflections upon empire, colonialism, missionary movements and the legacies of slavery as I have begun to delve more deeply into my own background and whiteness and their assumptions. Alongside this, I have been looking at theologies of aging and of ways in which older age is understood and viewed within and beyond the Church. Most of those I minister alongside are retired and many are in their 80s-90s. The pandemic has made for a challenging time to try to discover a new community and chapter in ministry, but a wonderful opportunity too.