Reverend Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward (1930-2020)

Areas of Interest


Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of the University, 2006


The Rt Revd Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward KCMG was Hon Assistant Bishop in Ely Diocese and Hon Fellow in Residence and Assistant Chaplain in Magdalene College Cambridge. After serving as a Pilot Offer in the RAF, he studied at Magdalene College, Cambridge, before going on to lecture at the Free University of Berlin. He returned to Cambridge in 1954 to lecture at Westcott House and in 1956 became Chaplin at Magdalene. In 1960 he went to lecture at Ibadan University (Nigeria) then in 1963 returned again to Magdalene, this time as Fellow and Dean. In 1983 he was appointed Chaplain to the Queen, and from 1985-1997 served as Bishop of Coventry. He also served as Chair of the International and Development Affairs Committee of the General Synod of the Church of England, and also Chair of the Chaplaincy Council at Anglia Ruskin. His books include Love Will Out (1988), Why God? (1993), Praying the Jesus Prayer (2001) and The Jesus Prayer (revised and enlarged edition just out 2008).

In 2006 Simon Barrington-Ward was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of the University.


"The Senate of Anglia Ruskin University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Doctorate of the University to The Right Reverend Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward, KCMG, MA, DD, D Litt, Honorary Assistant Bishop of Ely, former Bishop of Coventry, General Secretary of the Church Mission Society and Principal of its Training College at Crowther Hall, Member of the House of Lords and pastor, evangelist, scholar, orator, writer and people person extraordinaire.

Simon is the son of a former Editor of The Times newspaper and was educated around the end of WWII at what is probably the most renowned school in the world, founded almost 600 years ago near Windsor: Eton College. From here he won a history scholarship and went up to Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he read history and later received an MA. In 1953, he spent a year as Lektor in the Frei Universitat, Berlin, returning to Cambridge's Westcott House, where he trained for the Anglican Ministry. He was then ordained and became Chaplain at his old Cambridge college, Magdalene, in 1956. Four years later he was prompted to take up a position as Assistant Lecturer in the Religious Studies Department of Ibadan University, teaching on African Church History and it was here that he met his wife-to-be, Jean, who was the University Medical Officer. They married in 1963 (subsequently having two daughters, Mary and Helen) and returned to Britain and Magdalene where Simon took up the post of Dean at his college chapel. Six years later, in 1969 Simon was selected as the first Principal of the Church Missionary Society's new Crowther Hall Training College, Birmingham. He appears to have laid an excellent foundation for missionary training during his seven years there and the Society thirty five years later, is only now in the process of updating its approach to its missionary outreach with an ever stronger international emphasis.

Simon was selected in 1975 as General Secretary of the Church Mission Society, which describes itself as a pioneering mission community with roots dating back to 1799 and it has attracted over nine thousand men and women to serve as mission partners during its 200-year history. Today, CMS supports around one thousand people in mission in 26 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East with a budget of about £7million a year. All members of CMS try to participate actively in Christian mission wherever they are, in their home country or overseas. During his ten years of tenure at CMS, Simon was involved in writing the regular CMS Newsletter and it was a selection of these letters that he used in preparing his book Love Will Out, later published by Marshall Pickering.

Simon's other publications include Why God? published by Lion Books in 1993, The Jesus Prayer published by the Bible Reading Fellowship in 1996 and (together with the Franciscan Monk, Brother Ramon), Praying the Jesus Prayer published by the Bible Reading Fellowship in 2001, as well as an assortment of other articles and contributions to works on Christian Mission over the years 1980-1990. He is currently working on an autobiographical work of reflection which he hopes will see the light of print and may reveal more of some interesting friendships and spiritual discoveries he has made over the years.

In 1985 Simon was elevated into the highest of ecclesiastical echelons on his consecration as the Bishop of Coventry, in which post he served until 1997. During his bishopric he was also nominated by the Queen to the British order of chivalry as Prelate (or Episcopal Chaplain) in the Order of St Michael and St George, made an Honorary Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge and in the wider church, elected as Chair of the International and Development Affairs Committee of the General Synod ["Board of Directors"] of the Church of England, at which post he served from 1986-1996.

Simon was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Wycliffe College, Toronto in 1989 and an Honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by Warwick University in 1998. Subsequently, he was promoted by Her Majesty the Queen to a higher level of the British order of chivalry (the Order of St Michael and St George) to Knight Commander, hence KCMG, and he was appointed as Honorary Assistant Bishop of Ely, Honorary Fellow in Residence and Honorary Assistant Chaplain at Magdalene College and a Trustee of the Henry Martyn Centre in Cambridge. Currently he is Chaplain to the Staff of Ridley Hall College in Cambridge and a Member of the Chaplaincy Council of Anglia Ruskin University, having served as Chair from 2000-2006.

This is a man born into the most privileged ranks of British society who has chosen to be of service to men and women across the world, especially to those in the 26 countries served by CMS as well as more locally, resulting in him being held in high esteem by individuals whose circumstances have been turned around for the good by his personal investment of time, effort and care, beyond the call of duty. He is a man who has spent many hours of reflection in a small croft house in the Highlands, who has tended to do more speaking than writing, a man who has confided that he is greatly honoured to be awarded an honorary degree by the Anglia Ruskin University, because he has enormously enjoyed his involvement with gifted and imaginative Chaplains and who so greatly values what they have showed him of this place where so many young and not so young people have had their lives transformed by being given a 'new start'.

I now ask the Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Tidmarsh, to confer the award. On behalf of Senate, I exercise the authority of Senate and confer the award of Honorary Doctorate of the University honoris causa on Bishop Simon Barrington-Ward."