16 March 2018

The Rt Revd Dr Colin Buchanan writes:

WITH reference to Canon Christopher Hall’s fine tribute to Canon Colin Craston (Gazette, 2 March), may I expand one point that he makes? He slips into a composite sentence: “[Colin] resurrected Trinity College, Bristol, from the internal struggles which would have killed two colleges there.” But there is much more to it than that. Colin was a key person on the Bible Churchmen’s Missionary Society (BCMS) Committee in 1968, resisting (in “one of the hardest decisions I have had to make”) the projected union, on a most dubious basis, of Tyndale Hall (whose property belonged to BCMS) with Clifton Theological College.

The BCMS Committee’s denial of the property did not of itself “resurrect” Trinity College (which was a new creation): that union, when it came, was due almost entirely to the visionary initiative of Bishop Oliver Tomkins; but Colin did the groundwork, not only in the blocking vote at BCMS, but also in taking on the chair to recreate Tyndale Hall when it was suffering. There he established both an enlightened constitution and a berth for the two distinguished theological teachers, Jim Packer and Alec Motyer, who had been excluded from the projected union in 1968.

Those who have rejoiced in Trinity College, Bristol, in the 47 years since the union, should know how, from that firm basis in the constitution, and in the two outstanding teachers (and with John Tiller also), Tyndale gave strength and direction to the new college. Without that solid ground, Tomkins could not have saved the situation.

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