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Tributes paid to Dr Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham

19 February 2024

He died on Saturday after a ‘suspected serious heart attack’

Diocese of Oxford

THE Area Bishop of Buckingham, Dr Alan Wilson, has died unexpectedly, aged 68, the Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, has announced.

In a letter to the diocese on Saturday night, Dr Croft wrote that his “dear friend and colleague” Dr Wilson had “suffered a suspected serious heart attack this morning at home and, very sadly, has died.” He is survived by his wife, Lucy, and their five adult children.

“The Church has lost a wise, pastoral and prophetic bishop,” Dr Croft wrote.

Dr Wilson had been Bishop of Buckingham for 20 years, and was on a sabbatical planning for his retirement next year when he died. Throughout his ministry, he had been a staunch supporter and advocate of LGBT+ inclusion in church and of survivors of abuse in a church context. He gave evidence to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in which he criticised the “unhealthy and excessive” centralisation of power in bishops in the Church of England (News, 5 July 2019).

Dr Wilson studied at St John’s College, Cambridge, and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, before his ordination as deacon in 1979 and priest in 1980. He served his whole ministry in the diocese of Oxford, beginning with curacies in Eynsham and Caversham, where he became Vicar of St John the Baptist in 1989, the year he gained his Oxford doctorate. He went on to serve as Rector of St Michael and All Angels, Sandhurst, until 2003, when he was consecrated bishop.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was among the first to pay tribute. Dr Wilson, he said, “was never afraid to stand up for those on the margins, those that felt they were being ignored by the Church. He was a man of prophetic spirit, reaching out where he saw injustice and speaking up where he witnessed the abuse of power. . . He leaves behind a huge gap and an important legacy. We have much to learn from his life and his courage.”

The Archdeacon of Buckingham, the Ven. Guy Elsmore, who worked closely with Dr Wilson, expressed his sadness and sympathies to the family of behalf of the area team. “We have lost a courageous, wise, and exceptional pastoral leader and teacher. Alan’s ministry was centred in people, in valuing every person he met and in the quest to expand the circle of the Church’s love to embrace all. He will be deeply missed by us all.”

Read more on this story in this week’s Press column here

Obituary to follow

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