Simon Barrington-Ward: Life and Memories

by Graham Kings

Date added: 24/02/2023

The Introduction, by Graham Kings, to Exchange of Gifts: The Vision of Simon Barrington-Ward (Ekklesia, 2022) edited by Graham Kings and Ian Randall.


‘Simon would talk to anyone and I would usually know whom he was talking to.’[1]

Mark Barrington-Ward, editor of The Oxford Mail for 18 years, thus summed up his experience of being together with his younger brother Simon at parties. Simon was gregarious but not always fully aware, whereas Mark was more shy, but organised.

Simon’s article, ‘My Pilgrimage in Mission’, republished as Chapter 13 below from the April 1999 edition of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research,[2] is very moving but he passes over various aspects of his life. In this chapter, I hope to fill in some of those lacunae, providing a setting for the rest of the book and also to contribute some of my own memories of Simon and of his nourishing personal ministry as a pastor.

Background and Schools

Simon was born in 1930 into an erudite family with connections to the Establishment. His father, Robert McGowan Barrington-Ward, was a barrister and then an Assistant Editor at The Times,and later was the Editor,between1941-48.[3] Robert was a scholar at Balliol College, Oxford, reading Literae Humaniores (Classics), was President of the Oxford Union and fought in the First World War in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, winning a Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross for bravery.

In his sermon at Eton College on Remembrance Sunday, 2000, Simon recounted:

My father had known that horror and that longing in the ghastly slaughter and confusion of the trenches in Ypres. I asked him once what he got his DSO and MC for, hoping to have a story to tell at school. But his face set grimly as he replied curtly, ‘For surviving.’[4]

Robert’s father, Mark James Barrington-Ward, Simon’s grandfather, was Rector of Duloe in Cornwall, and an inspector of schools: so the ordained ministry was in the family background.

Simon’s mother, Adele (née Radice), read history at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and met Robert after the First World War. She was the daughter of an Indian Civil Servant and was a schoolteacher. As well as Mark and Simon, Robert and Adele had a daughter, Caroline, and the family home was in a Georgian terrace in Regent’s Park, London.

Simon went to preparatory school near Coventry and then on to Eton College. A contemporary at Eton was Douglas Hurd, later to be Foreign Secretary. In a profile article on Hurd in 1995, Bryan Appleyard reported an intriguing link between the two:

Hurd went for a history prize and came second to the man who is now Bishop of Coventry. The examiner said the runner-up was extremely competent and would probably become a minister, but the winner had an extra element of emotion, of romanticism.[5]

Another contemporary was John Sweet, who became a New Testament scholar and Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge. When Simon preached at John’s funeral, in Selwyn College Chapel in 2009, he quoted a note in the online book condolences:

a young woman recalled how, when she apologised to him for the elementary nature of her naive questions, he replied characteristically, “Not at all. It’s so nice to have someone ask me questions to which I actually know the answer!”[6] 

Towards the end of his time at Eton, his father noted in this diary that he was glad about Simon’s positive view of the church.

Simon was only 18 when his father, on a cruise with his mother to recover from his ill health, suddenly died, in the harbour of Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, and was buried on the shore there. This was traumatic for Simon, Mark and Caroline. 

After national service as a pilot officer in the RAF, Simon was an exhibitioner reading history at Magdalene College, Cambridge from 1950 and graduated with a BA in 1953. The bursar there from 1949-77, Jock Burnet,[7] would be a key influence on his life. Simon contributed a chapter to a book in memory of him.

Berlin 1954: Lecturer in the Free University

In 1954, Simon taught history as a lector at the Free University, West Berlin: a learner amidst the ruins. Paul Oestreicher, Simon’s Director of Reconciliation in the Diocese of Coventry, wrote in his Church Times obituary:

With a group of Christians, former Nazis, and former resisters, forgiving and being forgiven, he worshipped in the Dahlem parish church where Martin Niemöller had preached sermons that went around the world, published in Britain as The Gestapo Defied by Christ Crucified. Eight years of imprisonment was the price that he paid. Simon’s new-found Berlin friend who had been ordered to defend the city to the very last introduced him to both Nietzsche’s philosophy and Brecht’s plays.[8]

Cambridge 1954-60: Ordinand at Westcott House then Chaplain at Magdalene College

Returning to Cambridge, Simon trained for ordination at Westcott House, 1954-56. Surprisingly, rather than serving as a curate in a parish, he became Chaplain of Magdalene College from 1956-60, and helped out in the vacations at a church on a housing estate in Hemel Hempstead.

The most famous Fellow of Magdalene during his time as chaplain was C. S. Lewis, Professor of Mediaeval and Renaissance English Literature. They used to go on long walks together along the River Cam to Stourbridge Common and Ditton Fields.

In his sermon in retirement, Sunday 11 Oct 1998, in Magdalene College chapel, Simon gave a long description of his memories of C. S. Lewis during this period, which included the following:

If you stepped aside from the conflict and simply offered him some tentative idea of your own, he could snatch it up like a favour and whirl it round on his lance until it became a positive banner. Gradually I came to enjoy the nightly entertainment of his marvellous talk, which his writings still so poignantly recall, the rich storehouse of his reading and his skill in drawing aptly upon it.[9]

In 2014, Simon recounted this friendship with Lewis in a YouTube interview with his son-in-law, James Orr, Lecturer in Philosophical Theology, in the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge.[10] He discussed their mutual love of George MacDonald’s stories, and of reciting the Book of Common Prayer Psalms at Morning Prayer in Chapel together.[11]

In Chapter 13, ‘My Pilgrimage in Mission’, Simon referred to an unnamed professor at Cambridge (‘at the instigation of one of our professors’[12]), who encouraged him to take up a lectureship in Nigeria. In his address at Magdalene College in 2008, ‘Magdalene in the 50s and 60s: a piece of Oral History’, he identified him as C. F. D. Moule, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and key supporter of the Church Missionary Society, who had been born in China of CMS missionary parents:

Professor C. F. D. Moule, a new Testament scholar at Clare College and an outstanding theologian kept an eye on us College Chaplains and sent me out to Nigeria at the request of his colleague, soon to be Dean in Clare, later Professor of Divinity at Oxford, Maurice Wiles, who had been teaching in Ibadan in Nigeria and asked for another Cambridge man to go out and fill his place.[13] 

Ibadan, Nigeria 1960-63: Assistant University Lecturer

Simon was an Assistant Lecturer in the Religious Studies Department of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria from 1960-63. Soon after he arrived another fascinating opportunityarose.His brother Mark recounts how he was offered the post of Principal of Westcott House, to succeed Kenneth Carey. Simon’s mother said, ‘you have given your word’ to the University of Ibadan. He wisely followed her advice and stayed.

He was influenced by two key women in Ibadan: Ibribina, a prophet and leader of an African Instituted Church, and Jean Taylor, a CMS missionary doctor and University medical officer, whose father had been a Church of Scotland missionary doctor in China.

In his anthropological researches, Simon focused on the Isoko people of the western Delta where Ibribina led her dynamic church. He later wrote up his study of her in his key work of detailed scholarship, ‘“The Centre Cannot Hold…” Spirit Possession as Redefinition’, in the influential 1978 book, Christianity in Independent Africa.[14] In Chapter 9, Linda Ochola-Adolwa, a Kenyan Anglican priest, theologian and social activist, revisits this work.

He and Jean fell in love and were married in 1963 at the Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh by Kenneth Carey, who had been Simon’s Principal at Westcott House and was the Bishop of Edinburgh, 1961-75. They had two daughters, Mary and Helen.[15] In Chapter 1, Helen writes about her family perspectives on her father.

Cambridge 1963-69: Dean of Chapel and Fellow of Magdalene College

Mark Barrington-Ward recounts how Jock Burnet, the Bursar of Magdalene College, Cambridge, was instrumental in drawing Simon back to his alma mater and from 1963 to 1969 Simon served as Dean of Chapel and Fellow of Magdalene College. The College obituary states:

Throughout a seventy-year association with the College, Bishop Simon was respected and admired for his intellect and his practical spirituality; and loved, too, for his warmth and his genuine interest in others.[16]

Simon and Jean lived in a house in Northampton Street, near Magdalene and also opposite Kettle’s Yard, the extraordinary ‘gallery-in-a-home’ of Jim Ede. On 26 Feb 2008, Robert Wilkinson conducted a Kettle’s Yard interview with Simon and Jean about Jim Ede, whom Simon first met when Simon was an undergraduate at Magdalene.[17] Jim and Helen, his wife, used to invite undergraduates to their home and influenced Simon’s views on modern art. Simon introduced Jim to the works of St John of the Cross, which Jim quoted in his book on Kettle’s Yard, A Way of Life.[18] He helped Jim through to deeper faith and later had the joy of confirming him.

During this period, he was influenced by two people in particular: David Watson, curate at The Round Church, Cambridge, whose renewal in the Holy Spirit introduced Simon to the beginnings of the Charismatic Movement in England, and John V. Taylor, the General Secretary of the CMS,[19] whose Africa Committee Simon chaired.

Birmingham 1969-75: Principal of Crowther Hall, CMS Training College

In 1969, John V. Taylor encouraged Simon to leave Cambridge and become the first Principal of Crowther Hall, the new CMS training college, in the ecumenical federation of Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, where he served from 1969-75.  Simon was delighted that the college was named after the first black African Bishop in the Anglican Communion, Samuel Ajayi Crowther. In 1999 he enjoyed the three Henry Martyn Lectures in the University of Cambridge, given by Professor Jacob F. Ade Ajayi, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Ibadan, ‘Mission and Empire: the Ambiguous Mandate of Bishop Crowther’.[20]

At Crowther Hall Simon introduced placements in inner-city churches and community projects. In Chapter 8, Cathy Ross, Head of Pioneer Mission Education at CMS, considers the ramifications of Simon’s mission theology for training today.

In 1973, Simon watched the Oxford and Cambridge boat race at the home of an Old Etonian, George Nissen, on Chiswick Mall, overlooking the River Thames. There he met a young man, who was looking for a gap-year experience between Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge. He suggested the ‘Youth Service Abroad’ scheme of CMS. This was Justin Welby’s first meeting with Simon and led to his life-changing experience of teaching at Kiburu School, near Karatina, in the highlands of Kenya.[21]

London 1975-85: General Secretary of CMS

In 1975, Simon was appointed General Secretary of the CMS, a post he held for 10 years. He was very conscious of, and somewhat overawed by, following in the footsteps of two well-known and creative predecessors, Max Warren (1942-63, who became Canon of Westminster),[22] and John V. Taylor (1963-75, who became Bishop of Winchester).

In 1984, I remember him coming to dinner at our house in Crowther Hall, where Alison and I were CMS mission partners in training, preparing to go to Kenya. Carole Fallowes and Hilary Green were our other guests. Simon drifted out of the conversation, focusing on the photograph of our eldest daughter, Rosalind, aged 3, on the sideboard, which he then discussed with us. We also talked about John V. Taylor because Carole, Hilary and I had been reading his writings. Simon suggested we wrote to John to arrange a meeting in London, which we did, at the Royal Commonwealth Club.[23]

Simon introduced into CMS the theme of ‘interchange’: receiving from, as well as giving to, the worldwide Church. In Chapter 5, John Clark, then CMS Regional Secretary for the Middle East and later Communications Secretary, expounds this concept. In Chapter 6, Simon Barrow, CMS Deputy Education Secretary at CMS during that period, describes his thinking on ecumenism and mission. In Chapter 7, Sarah Cawdell, who was a CMS short-term volunteer in Uganda, outlines his theology of mission which emanate from his monthly CMS Newsletters.

24 of these Newsletters were published in his most substantial book, Love Will Out. In the introduction, Simon stated:

Gradually, looking back, I begin to see [these CMS Newsletters] more and more as a set of variations. The theme itself an interplay, a fusion of opposites. It is a constant coming together of Heaven and Earth, universal and particular, divine and human, judgement and mercy, spiritual and material, ideal and reality, structure and community, joy and sorrow, in a whole range of varied contexts. [24]

It was while he was travelling the world as General Secretary that he first felt the need for deeper prayer and was taken by a friend to the Orthodox Monastery at Tolleshunt Knights, in Essex, headed by Fr Sophrony Sakharov.[25] There he encountered the Jesus Prayer, which was to be his spiritual foundation for the rest of his life and led to three short books: The Jesus Prayer (1996); Praying the Jesus Prayer Together (2001, written with Brother Ramon SSF); and The Jesus Prayer and the Great Exchange (2013).[26]

In 2014, Simon’s daughter, Helen Orr, conducted a YouTube interview with him in his study and chapel at 4 Searle Street, Cambridge, about the Jesus Prayer.[27] In Chapter 12, Philip Seddon, who served as a CMS mission partner in Nigeria and later as lecturer at Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, writes about his use of the Jesus Prayer. He accompanied Simon to this monastery and later to Mouth Athos.

Coventry: Bishop

After 10 years at CMS, Simon served as Bishop of Coventry 1985-97. He was consecrated at Westminster Abbey on 1 November 1985 by the Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie, who had been Dean of Trinity Hall, Cambridge 1956-60, when Simon was Chaplain of Magdalene College. The preacher was Misaeri Kauma, Assistant Bishop of Namirembe, Uganda.

Simon had learned German when he had lectured in Berlin and was especially moved by his visits to Dresden, with which Coventry was twinned. Both cities had suffered devastating bombing in the Second World War. On 13 February 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the Dresden bombing, he preached in fluent German to a large congregation at the Kreuzkirche in Dresden. The following day, the heart of his sermon was published in his article in The Times, ‘Sharing in Dresden’s Sorrow’. 

The destruction of 15 square kilometres of a defenceless city, packed with refugees…Any genuine military targets, such as an army barracks or factories in the suburbs, were left unscathed, and little or no damage was done to vital road junctions, railway lines, marshalling yards or bridges…The civilians has become the target. Churchill had spoken of sowing a wind to reap a whirlwind…The Litany of Reconciliation of Coventry’s Community of the Cross of Nails is also prayed in the Kreuzkircke in Dresden every Friday at the hour of Christ’s death.[28]

In the General Synod of the Church of England, he served as Chair of the International and Development Affairs Committee, 1986-1996. In Chapter 3, Clive Handford, his Suffragan Bishop of Warwick 1990-1996, describes Simon’s ministry in the diocese.

Simon was invited by Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford 1987-2006, to join the small episcopal cell group which he convened, for prayer and mutual support. It met twice a year, overnight in one of their homes, for a period of 24 hours. He was a valuable member throughout his ministry in Coventry and Richard’s memories include the following:

Simon’s joyous personality exuded a gentle spirituality, but not such a one as prevented him having an engagement with intellectual ideas and well thought out convictions. Particularly of course we remember him for two of his major concerns, which he shared with us: his passion for the Jesus Prayer, and his admiration for, as well as ministry to, Gillian Rose. It was also good when Jean could join us, as she did on occasions, for our final meal together.[29]

In 1988, Simon was one of four keynote speakers at the National Evangelical Anglican Congress at Caister, Norfolk: the title of his address was ‘The Saving God.’ This was significant because, by some, he was not seen as a ‘card-carrying’ Evangelical.

In 1992 his chapter, ‘The Christic Cogito: Christian Faith in a Pluralist Age’ was published in the festschrift for Peter Baelz, Dean of Durham, which is republished here as Chapter 14.[30] 

Paul Oestreicher comments in his Church Times obituary:

If, at times, his feet left the ground, Jean, his rock, would bring him back to earth. Their hospitality, their open house, and open table were a blessing to many in the diocese and beyond.[31]

In 1992, nearly 20 years after suggesting a gap-year in Kenya to him, Simon ordained Justin Welby to serve as a curate in the parish of Chivers Coton, a working class suburb of Nuneaton, in the West Midlands. Simon said to Justin, ‘You’ve always been with people who do things. It’s time you lived in a place where people have things done to them.’[32] In 1995, Simon instituted Justin as Rector of St James church, Southam, a market town in rural Warwickshire, where he served for 7 years.

Simon’s description, in Chapter 13, of his friendship with the philosopher Gillian Rose, is deeply moving.

She was Jewish and an ardent seeker of the kingdom of God. She was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick, and had discussions with Rowan Williams over a period of ten years concerning these matters. When Simon baptised her on the day she died, aged 48, Rowan was speaking at a conference at Warwick, which she had organized.

Rowan’s set of three poems, ‘Winterreise: for Gillian Rose, 9 December 1995’, are extraordinary.[33] Her final book was a powerful memoir entitled Love’s Work.[34] Andrew Shanks has written the first major book on her thought from a theological point of view, entitled Against Innocence.[35]

In 1991, when she was still alive, Rowan published an essay drawing on her work, ‘Between politics and metaphysics: reflections in the wake of Gillian Rose’. It was republished in his collection, edited by Mike Higton, Wrestling with Angels. He wrote:

Central to Rose’s concern is the philosophical importance of error and the recognisability of error. To recognize misperception is to learn; to learn is to reimagine or reconceive the self; and this in turn is to encounter the ‘violence’ - a crucially significant and difficult word in Rose's recent oeuvre - that is inescapably involved in our position towards others and towards ourselves. It is because this violence is always presupposed by our particular positions in any network of relations that law is required in our sociality. And the insistence on a sociality never ‘mended’ in a final way (another recurrent theme) is precisely what raises, obliquely but inexorably, a religious question; not the facile and tempting question of law’s relation to grace, but the harder one of how the very experience of learning and of negotiation can be read as something to do with God.[36]

Simon preached a sermon in Little St Mary’s Church, Cambridge in 2004 about Gillian Rose (Chapter 16) and quoted her testimony:

When she was in hospital, strongly depending upon a Christian doctor whom she trusted deeply, she suddenly wrote him a letter and sent me a copy.  I quote,

          ‘You know me to be a Jew.  I am also a Trinitarian…  However, while I feel held by God and the Holy Spirit, like many Jews I have a difficulty with Christ, ‘to the Jews a stumbling block.’  As a result of this week’s experience I have gained Christ.  For Christ is a stumbling block, but once you touch the hem of his robe with faith, you are healed.  I shall be thanking God for this insight and gift.’[37] 

Cambridge: Retirement as Hon Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Ely and Hon Assistant Chaplain, Magdalene College

In 1997, Simon and Jean retired to 4 Searle Street, Cambridge, not far from Magdalene College, where I remember squeezing into Simon’s attic study and chapel for a discussion, when I was Director of the Henry Martyn Centre for the study of mission and world Christianity.

The previous year, I had a phone conversation with Simon and asked whether he wanted to give some of his books to the Centre (since renamed, the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide), where he could still have access to them.[38] He was delighted to give most of his mission studies books. This was the beginning of his long association with the Centre, where he served as a Trustee of the Henry Martyn Trust from 1998 and as chair 2002-4. He left his papers to the Centre, which form the basis of Chapter 4 ‘In The Henry Martyn Centre’, by Ian Randall, Research Associate at the Centre and Church Historian.[39]

Simon served as Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Ely for 23 years, from 1997 to his death in 2020. He had already become an Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College in 1987 and now also became an Honorary Assistant Chaplain there. This proved to be his longest period of sustained pastoral work.

His obituary on the Magdalene College website states:

Simon continued to bring his kindness, wit, acuity and cheerfulness to the community; and when he returned to Magdalene in retirement, he found a new generation of friends – as well as many of his old colleagues and companions. [40]

He rejoiced in the friendships, in particular, of two Fellows who are Roman Catholics, Prof Eamon Duffy, Professor of the History of Christianity,[41] and Prof Nicholas Boyle, Professor of German Literature and Intellectual History and biographer of Goethe.[42] Simon enjoyed many hours discussing Hegel with Nicholas Boyle. In Chapter 10 Dr James Orr, Lecturer in the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge, and Simon’s son-in-law, writes on ‘Hegel and Holiness’.

In Chapter 2, we republish the In Memoriam articles of Dr Ronald Hyam (Emeritus Reader in British Imperial History and Archivist Emeritus) and of Professor Nicholas Boyle written for the Magdalene College Magazine and a College letter from Revd Sarah Atkins, (College Chaplain). Simon was delighted when Rowan Williams became Master in 2013, after retiring as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Simon was also Chaplain to the staff of Ridley Hall Theological College, where Christopher Cocksworth was the Principal from 2001 and who succeeded him as Bishop of Coventry in 2008. Andy Lord, who wrote Chapter 11, ‘Ecclesiology, Grace and Brokenness,’ first met Simon as an ordinand at Ridley Hall.[43] Simon was also member of the Chaplaincy Council of Anglia Ruskin University, serving as Chair from 2000-2006.

I remember seeing him preach at Westminster College, the theological college of the United Reformed Church, just after he had completed a week’s retreat at the Orthodox monastery in Essex. He preached as one with a shining face – almost as a staretz (a Russian Orthodox saint).

The Queen made Simon one of her Chaplains in 1983 (serving till 1985 when he was consecrated bishop), then Prelate of the Order of St Michael and St George 1989-2005 and finally Knight Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in 2001. He served on the Prince of Wales’ advisory group on Islam.

Simon was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Wycliffe College, Toronto in 1989, an Honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by Warwick University in 1998 and became an Honorary Doctor of Anglia Ruskin University in 2006.

In 1999, during a car journey together, Simon suggested that I explore being a contextual theologian as a parish priest and, eventually, that led to our move to the parish of St Mary Islington, London. After my valedictory lecture at the Henry Martyn Centre, Westminster College, he gave an astonishing summing up, which interwove Hegel and mission theology.

Simon preached on the day of Pentecost, 19 May 2002 at St Mary’s. The evening before, Pentecost Eve, he led a group of us in saying the Jesus Prayer together, as we prayed for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit the next day.

Simon preached about the Holy Spirit and of a moving experience at Crowther Hall.

Ugandan priest -  William Nagenda? – comes to stay. Speaks severely to Jean and myself:

‘You want the Holy Spirit! Holy Spirit comes not when roof is raised, but when the floor falls in!’

Prophetic words.[44]

After Simon’s sermon people were invited to come forward for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit. Andrew Adigun, our organist of Nigerian heritage, had had severe problems with his hands and had been unable to play a particular piece by Chopin. He came forward and was filled with the Holy Spirit. He felt so different that, on returning home, he played the Chopin piece without any difficulty.


As they became frail, Simon and Jean moved into a residential home, Buchan House, in Cambridge. Philippa King, Rector of the parish of the Ascension, which includes their local church of St Luke’s, took Simon by car to church each Sunday and said Morning Prayer, according to The Book of Common Prayer, with him each day at Buchan House. Liturgy from the depths surfaced through dementia and Philippa felt profoundly ministered to by God and Simon through the words of Cranmer and the Bible. One day Philippa introduced a German resident, who knew little English, to Simon and they conversed for hours in German.

Elizabeth Adekunle, Archdeacon of Hackney and previously chaplain of St John’s College, Cambridge, bought their home at 4 Searle Street: a moving link back to their time in Nigeria. Their daughter and son-in-law, Helen and James Orr, bought a house on the banks of the River Cam nearby.

Full of faith and full of years, 89, Simon died of Covid-19 in Addenbrokes Hospital, Cambridge on 11 April 2020. He was a kind, intuitive and integrated seeker after mutuality and coherence and entered into the joy of his Lord. Well done, good and faithful servant.

The Times obituary mentioned:

A slight, sharp-featured man, he would write copious notes in a rapid, stylised calligraphy, preferring to send handwritten letters rather than have them typed. 

Barrington-Ward may not have been a very systematic preacher but his ability to communicate with crowds and his joyful humanity put this humble man in the front rank of church leaders.

In retirement Barrington-Ward never lost his childlike sense of wonder or sparkling eyes.[45]

In the Church Times, Paul Oestreicher, summed him up:

Simon was good news. With the gospel in his heart, he was a man of joy, bubbling over with ideas: “half a dozen before breakfast”, as one of his colleagues joked. The good ones would survive, the rest be forgotten. He was ever eager to learn from others. He was an enthusiast. His churchmanship? That word did not feature in his vocabulary. He had charisma, but was no more signed up to the Charismatic movement than to any other Church party. He embraced and took what was good from them all - far beyond Anglican frontiers, or even Christian frontiers. His liberality knew no bounds.[46]

Perhaps the essence of Simon’s vision may be seen distilled in the title of our book, ‘Exchange of Gifts’. The phrase is Simon’s own. It is found at the heart of his ‘Interchange Prayer’, which he wrote for CMS and was printed annually in the CMS Diary:

Lord, as you have entered into our life and death

and in all the world you call us into your death and risen life,

forgive us our sins; and draw us we pray,

by the power and encouragement of your Spirit,

into an exchange of gifts and needs,

joys and sorrows, strength and weakness

with your people everywhere;

that with them we may have grace

to break through every barrier,

to make disciples of all peoples

and to share your love with everyone for your glory’s sake.





End Notes


1. My telephone interview with Mark Barrington-Ward, on 19 Jan 2021, and my various interviews with Helen Orr in Cambridge, Simon’s daughter, have been invaluable for this chapter, as well as the following obituaries: The Times,20 April 2020 ; The Daily Telegraph, 19 May 2020 ; The Church Times, by Canon Paul Oestreicher, ; Magdalene College, Cambridge accessed 17 Feb 2021 (see below, Chapter 2). Over the years, Simon provided four short autobiographical accounts of his life: ‘My Pilgrimage in Mission’ (see below, Chapter 13); ‘Exploring the Great Exchange’ (see below, Chapter 15); Anna Jeffrey (ed.), Five Gold Rings: Powerful Influences on Prominent People (London: DLT, 2003), pp. 1-8; The Jesus Prayer and the Great Exchange (Cambridge: Grove Books, 2013).

2. Gerald H. Anderson, the editor of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, had asked me, a contributing editor, to commission articles for the April 1999 edition,which focused on the bicentenary of the Church Mission Society, founded in 1799.

3. Donald McLachlan, In the Chair: Barrington-Ward of The Times (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1971).

4. Simon Barrington-Ward, ‘Remembrance Sunday Sermon’, Eton College, 12 Nov 2000, SBW papers File Sermons and Talks 1.

5. Bryan Appleyard, ‘Je Regrette a Thing or Two, Perhaps’, The Independent 18 July 1995.

6. Simon Barrington-Ward, ‘Sermon at the Funeral of John Sweet’, Selwyn College Chapel, 15 July 2009, SBW papers computer disk.

7. accessed 17 Feb 2021

8. accessed 17 Feb 2021, Church Times 1 May 2020.

9.  Simon Barrington-Ward, Sermon 11 Oct 1998, Magdalene College, Cambridge, SBW papers Sermon and Talks file one.

10. ‘Looking Towards the End: Cambridge Memories of C. S. Lewis’, Simon Barrington-Ward interviewed by Dr James Orr, 2014 accessed 17 Feb 2021.

11. C. S. Lewis, at the time, was involved with T. S. Eliot and others in translating The Revised Psalter (1963).

12. ‘My Pilgrimage in Mission’, see Chapter 13.

13. Simon Barrington-Ward, ‘Magdalene in the 50s and 60s: a Piece of Oral History’, 6 Mar 2008, SBW papers, computer disk.

14. ‘”The Centre cannot hold…”Spirit possession as redefinition’ in Adrian Hastings, Fasholé-Luke et al. (eds), Christianity in Independent Africa (London: Rex Collins, 1978), pp. 445-470.

15. Mary works in healthcare PR and Helen Orr is associate priest at the University Church of Great St Mary’s.



18. Jim Ede, A Way of Life: Kettle’s Yard Gallery (Cambridge: CUP, 1984).

19. See David Wood, Bishop John V. Taylor: Poet, Priest and Prophet (London: CTBI, 2002) and Graham Kings, ‘Mission and the Meeting of Faiths: the Theology of Mission of Max Warren and John V. Taylor’ in Kevin Ward and Brian Stanley (eds), The Church Mission Society and World Christianity, 1799-1999 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999) and Jonny Baker and Cathy Ross, Imagining Mission with John V. Taylor (London: SCM Press, 2020).

20. Jacob Ade Ajayi, ‘Mission and Empire: The Ambiguous Mandate of Bishop Crowther’. Lecture 1. ‘Philanthropy in Sierra Leone’ 2. ‘Crowther and Language in the Yoruba Mission’ 3. ‘Crowther and Trade on the Niger’

21. Andrew Atherstone, Archbishop Justin Welby: Risk-taker and Reconciler (London, Darton, Longman and Todd, 2014), p. 16 based on an interview Atherstone conducted with Lady Williams, Justin Welby’s mother, who sold ‘a diamond ring she had inherited from her godmother to enable Justin to travel’.

22. Graham Kings, Christianity Connected: Hindus, Muslims and the World in the Letters of Max Warren and Roger Hooker (Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum, 2002 and Delhi: ISPCK, 2017).

23. Hilary and her friend, Tim Naish, had a further discussion with John about marriage and whether she should postpone going to Nepal as a mission partner or not. Hilary and Tim later were married and Simon ordained Tim in Coventry Cathedral to serve a curacy in the diocese, before they both served as CMS mission partners in Zaire and later Uganda. Hilary is now a psychotherapist and Tim is Canon Librarian of Canterbury Cathedral. Carole served in Juba, Sudan, as a teacher trainer, and later after marrying Mike Boardman, in Pakistan.

24. 24 of Simon’s CMS News-letters were published in his main book, Love Will Out: A Theology of Mission for today’s world: CMS newsletters 1975-85 (Basingstoke: Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 1988).

25. See Rowan Williams, Looking East in Winter: Contemporary Thought and the Eastern Christian Tradition (London: Bloomsbury, 2021).

26. Simon Barrington-Ward, The Jesus Prayer (Oxford: BRF, 1996); Brother Ramon and Simon Barrington-Ward, Praying the Jesus Prayer Together (Oxford: BRF, 2001); Simon Barrington-Ward, The Jesus Prayer and the Great Exchange (Cambridge: Grove Books, 2013).

27. See also the one hour lecture by Simon at St Paul’s Cathedral in 2011 accessed 18 Feb 2021.

28. Simon Barrington-Ward, ‘Sharing in Dresden’s Sorrow’, The Times, 14 Feb 1995.

29. Richard Harries, email to Graham Kings 4 May 2021.

30. ‘The Christic Cogito: Christian Faith in a Pluralist Age’ in D. W. Hardy and P. H. Sedgwick (eds), The Weight of Glory: a Vision and Practice for Christian Faith, the Future of Liberal Theology (T&T Clark, 1991), pp. 257-270.

31. Church Times 1 May 2020.

32. Atherstone, Justin Welby, p. 70.

33. Rowan Williams, The Poems of Rowan Williams (Manchester: Carcanet, 2014), p. 68-69.

34. Gillian Rose, Love’s Work: a Reckoning with Life (London: Chatto and Windus, 1995). It was republished by the New York Review of Books in 2011, with the poem, at the end, by Geoffrey Hill, ‘In Memoriam: Gillian Rose’, which may be found in Geoffrey Hill, Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 edited by Kenneth Haynes (Oxford: OUP, 2013), pp. 588-591.

35. Andrew Shanks, Against Innocence: Gillian Rose’s Reception and Gift of Faith (London: SCM press, 2008).

36. Rowan Williams, 'Between politics and metaphysics: reflections in the wake of Gillian Rose', in Rowan Williams, Mike Higton (eds), Wrestling with Angels: Conversations with Modern Theology (London: SCM press, 2007), p. 60.

37. Simon Barrington-Ward, ‘Sermon for Gillian Rose’, Little St Mary’s Church, Cambridge, 29 Feb 2004, SBW papers, Sermons and Talks, File 3 and Chapter 16.




41. In 1997, Professor Walter Hollenweger, Professor of Mission at the University of Birmingham, gave the biennial Henry Martyn Lectures in the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge. I remember the celebratory dinner at St Catharine’s College, after the first one on 27 October. The interaction on the subject of Pentecostalism between Hollenweger, Simon and Eamon Duffy, the Chair of the Faculty of Divinity, was memorable.

42. Simon mentions Nicholas Boyle in his chapter mentioned above, ‘The Christic Cogito’ (Chapter 14): ‘It will be seen that I am heavily indebted to this article [‘The Idea of Christian Poetry’] and its author. He links Hopkins with a development in which also Erich Auerbach and Hegel figure and he indeed led me to both.’ The Weight of Glory,p. 268, fn 5.

43. See also Andy Lord, Rivers of the Spirit: the Spirituality of Simon Barrington-Ward (Oxford: Fairacres, 2021).

44. Simon Barrington-Ward, Sermon at St Mary’s Islington, Pentecost Sunday, 19 May 2002. SBW papers Sermons and Talks File 2.























































Graham Kings

Graham Kings


Wood panel

Wood panel

A bronze