Obituary: Canon Norman Todd

by
21 June 2019

The Ven. Christopher Laurence writes:

A GENERATION of bishops now long retired will remember Canon Norman Todd’s patient personal support as, newly consecrated, they found their way along fresh paths of episcopal leadership. He was the first Archbishop’s Adviser for Bishops’ Ministry, appointed in 1988 by Archbishop Runcie, his contemporary in training and on the staff at Westcott House, Cambridge.

Previously, after a seven-year incumbency at Arnold, Nottingham, he had spent his ministry in several varieties of ministerial training, while a parish priest in country parishes in Southwell & Nottingham diocese. He combined this with the formal role of Bishop’s Adviser for Training, from 1976 to 1983. Informally, he was also a leader in the Clinical Theology Association; the group-life training programme run by the Church of England Adult Education Department; the team- and group-ministry training programme at William Temple College; and the Edward King Ministry Development programme, all now extinct, but influential in their time.

Norman Henry Todd progressed from a first degree in chemistry, through theology and into psychology, which was the subject of his doctoral thesis. He was especially interested in theories of management and leadership in large organisations, and sponsored the work of MODEM in encouraging interdisciplinary study of the subject. In this connection, he never lost his impatience with the Church of England’s leadership, nor his belief that this could be reformed by insights gained from other organisations.

He married Joyce in 1943, and they produced seven children. After war service, he trained at Westcott House, with many war veterans who subsequently rose to the episcopal bench. One of his fellow students, who became a pioneer worker priest, remembered him years later. “Now, Norman,” he said, “he had guns. But he never used them.” Norman was indeed an intellectual heavyweight with a light touch. He took his doctorate in psychology and had a practice as a psychotherapist.

He never ceased to study theology in depth. In his last year, he was enjoying rabbinic theology of the New Testament, and delighting in his discovery of Maimonides. He died peacefully at home holding Joyce’s hand, and surrounded by his family, all of whom have survived him.

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