From the Bishop of Bolton
Sir, - I was both fascinated and greatly encouraged to read
Bishop John Saxbee's article commemorating the centenary of the
birth of Bishop Ian Ramsey (Features, 23 January).
The Durham University Mission in 1969, described in the article,
was literally a life-changing few days for me. At the time, I was a
first-year undergraduate, and went along, somewhat reluctantly, it
has to be said, at the invitation of a friend, to hear a varied and
inspiring group of speakers. These included Ramsey himself, Bishop
Michael Hare-Duke, and the Revd David Watson.
As a result of that week, and especially the night that David
Watson spoke, my "inherited" faith became personal in a new way,
and within weeks I had a strong sense of God's calling me into
ordained ministry. I know I was not the only young undergraduate to
be deeply affected by that mission week.
Over the course of the next three years, until his untimely
death, I had the opportunity of hearing Bishop Ian speak on a
number of occasions, and little did I realise then that one day I
would have the privilege as Bishop myself, of holding the title of
the very town from which this working-class lad came.
Bishop's Lodge, Walkden Road, Worsley, Manchester M28
From Penny Thompson
Sir, - In 1970, the report of the Durham commission on religious
education, The Fourth R, was published. The commission had
worked for three years under the chairmanship of Ian Ramsey. It was
a great undertaking, with sections on history of RE, contemporary
theology, theology of education, moral education in county schools,
collective worship, RE in other countries, and independent and
The commission and its various sub-committees were served by ten
professors, and the sub-committee on theology included six
professors. Serving teachers and church lay people also sat on the
commission. Ramsey's successor as Nolloth Professor of the
Christian Religion at Oxford, Basil Mitchell, contributed an
appendix, "Indoc-trination", and also chaired the sub-committee on
The commission was set up in response to a time of great
uncertainty in RE, as the logical positivists undermined old
certainties about speaking about God. Its conclusions have been
debated and, at the time, the pioneering work of Ninian Smart
seemed to gain more attention when, with impeccable timing, he
published Schools' Council Working Paper 36 a year later.
It may be, however, that the support Ramsey gave to the part played
by Christianity in RE has proved the more long-lasting. The 1988
ERA, with its insistence on the teaching of Christianity, is one
The Fourth R certainly remains a remarkable and very
readable document, and an example of Ramsey's ability to respond
with enormous energy at a time of crisis. PENNY THOMPSON
14 Chestnut Ave, Crosby, Liverpool L23 2SZ
From the Revd Ian Tomlinson
Sir, - Reading Philip Welsh's essay on the position of bishops
January) reminded me of the approachable Bishop John V.
Taylor's response to me when I petitioned him to support the
non-sale of the allotments here, owned by the diocese, for
He replied: "Always remember that the centre of the diocese is
on the periphery." This somewhat gnomic statement went down a treat
when I read it out to the PCC, who were glad to receive a letter,
some time later, to let them know that their cauliflowers and
potatoes were safe, as the decision to sell had been reversed.
Truly a bishop on the boundary!
The Rectory, Ragged Appleshaw, Andover SP11 9HX