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Nourishing Mission: Theological settings by Graham Kings

21 October 2022

William Jacob considers a bishop’s mission reflections

DR GRAHAM KINGS has been a curate in Harlesden in inner-city west London, a lecturer in St Andrew’s College, Kabare, in Kenya, and subsequently Henry Martyn Lecturer in Mission Studies in the Cambridge Federation of theological colleges, and from 1995 founding Director of the Henry Martyn Centre for the Study of Mission and World Christianity (since 2014, renamed the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide), and an affiliated lecturer in the Cambridge Divinity Faculty.

From 2000 until 2009, he was Vicar of the once renowned leading Evangelical parish St Mary’s, Islington, and then Suffragan Bishop of Sherborne in Salisbury diocese. In 2015, he was appointed to head a project to promote mission theology in the Anglican Communion, and from 2018 was World Mission Adviser in the diocese of Southwark while ministering at St Matthew’s at the Elephant and Castle in south London. He has now retired.

The book comprises 16 papers and lectures, all of which have previously been published elsewhere, and a few poems, drawing on Kings’s extensive experience of mission. He identifies six “cohering themes” among the pieces: the “subtle use of the Bible”, the interaction with national, international, and post-colonial politics, the interweaving of art and theology, faithfulness and sensibility, in interfaith relationships, the priority of the personal in mission, and mission and unity.

An introduction briefly contextualises each piece in Kings’s experience of teaching in Kenya and Cambridge, attending Evangelical world-mission conferences, some research projects, and his time as Vicar of St Mary’s, Islington, and Bishop of Sherborne. Being reproduced as originally published or delivered, some are now rather dated.

The papers on the two great English mission theologians of the 20th century, Max Warren and John V. Taylor, and on Evangelical-Roman Catholic dialogue on Mission are important. The first of these papers throws new light on Warren’s and Taylor’s sympathy with and insight in relation to other faiths. Kings notes that their work has influenced many missiologists, if not much contemporary Evangelicalism. The second paper illuminates John Stott’s urbanity and statesmanship in initiating conversations with the Vatican, despite more conservative Evangelicals’ suspicions.

The papers reveal Kings’s personal experiences and wide-ranging contacts. Would they be helpful to readers of the Church Times seeking to nourish mission in their parishes? Perhaps not: the resources that produced the reflections on mission in gentrified Islington and episcopal ministry in Dorset are unlikely to be available to most people pondering the meaning and practice of mission in their parishes.


The Ven. Dr William Jacob is a former Archdeacon of Charing Cross, in London.


Nourishing Mission: Theological settings
Graham Kings
Brill €55*
*available at brill.com

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