Memories of Rt Rev Alan Wilson

The Bishop of Buckingham died suddenly on 17 February. Ecumenical colleagues have shared their thoughts on his ministry for Christian unity.

Following Bishop Alan’s sudden death many ecumenical colleagues took to social media to express their loss of a Christian leader whose ministry had touched the lives and work of many.

Born in Scotland, Bishop Alan studied at Cambridge before training for ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. His entire ordained ministry was within the Diocese of Oxford, firstly as a curate in Eynsham, then Vicar in Caversham and Sandhurst, Area Dean in Sonning and then Bishop of Buckingham. He served as Bishop of Buckingham for over 20 years. Throughout his time as Bishop, he was engaged in ecumenical work throughout Buckinghamshire and he was particularly active in his support of Churches Together in Milton Keynes.

Rev Canon Helen Cameron, CTE President and Moderator of the Free Churches Group, who worked alongside Bishop Alan for seven years writes:

“The sudden and unexpected death of the Rt Revd Alan Wilson has left many of us feeling heartbroken and bereft.

Bishop Alan was a dear friend and close colleague in Milton Keynes where the regional ecumenical leaders work closely together in a context which brings great joy but also some complexity. So, for seven years  Bishop Alan and I spoke frequently along with our other denominational colleagues, we laughed together a great deal, we prayed and shared meals, as we laboured together for change and transformation. He could turn a phrase. In a moment when colleagues were assuring each other of our mutual respect and trust, he declared, “They can’t get a fag paper between us”. It was quite a graphic image of our unity in Christ. He was right.

“Bishop Alan was courageous and true. He spoke truth to power, actively supported the survivors of church abuse, urged the Church to listen to survivors and do much better, and encouraged the Church to develop a healthier understanding of the use of power and authority. He was a campaigner for LGBTIQ+ justice long before being an ally was an acceptable stance to take. He listened carefully and gently to those who disagreed with him.

“Bishop Alan was profoundly intelligent, filled with raucous laughter, a deep humanity, profound kindness and generosity of spirit. It made him a committed ecumenist and we thank God for him. He will be missed”.

Doral Hayes, CTE’s Principal Officer for Ecumenical Development and Relations who also serves as a Licenced Lay Minister in Buckinghamshire writes:

“Bishop Alan had a rare gift for hospitality, he was kind, honest, warm-hearted and open to be questioned.  He demonstrated a commitment to relational ecumenism and encouraged my own ecumenical and theological development for which I will always be grateful.  His passing is a loss to many, and I will miss his wisdom, candour and humour”.

Rev. Tim Norwood, National Officer for Local Ecumenism, Church of England writes:

“I worked with Alan Wilson throughout his time as Bishop of Buckingham. 

“He was a tireless campaigner for justice, but also had a deeply pastoral heart.  He was quick to speak out on big issues, but equally willing to get involved directly.  He was genuinely pleased to host a Ukrainian family in his house.  His words were accompanied by action.

“He was not a traditional ecumenist but had a clear commitment to relational and missional unity.  He believed in Receptive Ecumenism and was keen to engage with people from all backgrounds.  I appreciated his support in the creation of Churches Together in Milton Keynes – which embodied this desire for greater breadth of engagement.  I will always remember the last event he worked on with us.  He preached one of the best sermons on Christian Unity that I have ever heard.  At the same time, he was visibly moved by the Seventh Day Adventist singers, who drew us into worship, without printed or projected text.  His appreciation of diversity was deep.  Rest in Peace, Bishop Alan”.

The Diocese of Oxford has a book of condolences for Bishop Alan.

Photo credit: © Diocese of Oxford