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John Madeley

05 May 2017

Charity, cycling missions, and global justice: John Madeley

Charity, cycling missions, and global justice: John Madeley

Canon Christopher Hall writes:

JOHN MADELEY, who died on 26 March, aged 82, was an Anglican layman who spent his life walking the talk as expressed in the Com­munion’s “Five Strands of Mission”.

He used his knowledge, skills, and opportunities to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom — as a BBC and Channel 4 broadcaster, and as a journalist on these pages and on those of The Times, the Financial Times, The Guardian, and The Observer. As a Reader for more than 40 years in Manchester and Oxford dioceses, he taught and nurtured new believers; so a wo­­man tells how John led her towards ordained ministry.

John responded to human need with his loving service with the homeless, in a Reading drop-in centre, on Saturday evenings for 20 years. He took part in sponsored walks and cycle rides — he raised £5400 for intermediate technology, riding from the Channel to the Mediterranean. That revealed his com­­petitive nature, also to be wit­nessed on a golf course as a scratch player in his youth.

Charity was not enough for John; he was a field officer for the infant World Development Movement, seek­­ing global justice. Travelling in Africa, he saw for himself the unjust structures of society, and, equipped with his Manchester University eco­nomics degree, he wrote about how they needed to be transformed.

With his devoted wife, Alison, he published, from 1983 to 1998, the magazine International Agricultural Development for a worldwide read­er­­ship. Goodreads.com lists 12 of his books, including Hungry for Trade, When Aid is No Help, Food for All, and 50 Reasons to Buy Fair Trade. His book on multinational companies went to nine editions.

His work was translated into Arabic, Chinese, and Indonesian. He wrote 100 ways to Make Poverty History for the campaign that led to the G8 leaders’ conference in 2006 at Gleneagles, at which he was an accredited journalist; that story he retold in Beyond Reach?, his first novel. John strove to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.

His second novel, Let Live, re­­ported the real, life-threatening, effects of climate change on people in Africa, whom he had met cycling, telling all the truth, but telling it slant. His 1977 Church Times article on “Demo­cracy” prophetically pre­figured this year’s report Setting God’s People Free: “It is important that Christians are involved not only in party politics but in the powerful secular groups outside Parliament. . .

“It will be said that many Christians are busy enough already on the PCC or the Synod. But a Church that ties up its best people in its own internal affairs deserves all that’s coming to it.’’

As a political expres­sion of his faith, John was a Liberal candidate at three General Elections, coming second in safe Tory seats, once gaining sufficient votes to have been elected in a marginal con­stituency. For ten years, he repre­sented Ox­­ford diocese on the General Synod.

His deep commitment to the Kingdom of Christ was nurtured by the spirituality of Taizé. He bought “La petite maison” near by, which he shared with his many friends.

It was thus appropriate that the large congregation at his Holy Week funeral in Caversham sang the recessional for his cardboard coffin with the words: “Bless the Lord, my soul, and bless God’s holy name. Bless the Lord, my soul, who leads me into life.”

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