Canon John Halliburton

Anglican scholar-priest who encouraged dialogue with Rome

John Halliburton served the Church of England for nearly 45 years as a priest and scholar, a Tutor at St Stephen's House, Oxford, as Principal of Chichester Theological College and latterly a Canon and Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral. However the Church of England may have changed during that time, there was a constancy in Halliburton's deep commitment to the ministry and in his catholicism of spirit (in the sense of generosity), which combined to form and shape a life of service that enriched the lives of many others.

Robert John Halliburton, priest and scholar: born London 23 March 1935; ordained deacon 1961, priest 1962; Curate, St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney 1961-67; Tutor, St Stephen's House, Oxford 1967-71, Vice-Principal 1971-73; Lecturer, Lincoln College, Oxford 1973-75; Principal, Chichester Theological College 1975-82; Canon and Prebend of Chichester Cathedral 1976-82, Canon Emeritus 1982-88, Canon and Prebend of Wightring and Theology Lecturer 1988-90; Priest-in-Charge, All Souls, St Margaret's-on-Thames 1982-89; Canon Residentiary and Chancellor, St Paul's Cathedral 1989-2003, Canon Emeritus 2003-04; Priest-in-Charge, St Andrew's, Pau 2003-04; married 1968 Jennifer Ormsby Turner (one son, two daughters, and one son and one daughter deceased); died Pau, France 26 September 2004.

John Halliburton served the Church of England for nearly 45 years as a priest and scholar, a Tutor at St Stephen's House, Oxford, as Principal of Chichester Theological College and latterly a Canon and Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral. However the Church of England may have changed during that time, there was a constancy in Halliburton's deep commitment to the ministry and in his catholicism of spirit (in the sense of generosity), which combined to form and shape a life of service that enriched the lives of many others.

Robert John Halliburton was born in Wimbledon in 1935, moved to Kent during the Second World War and from Tonbridge School to Selwyn College, Cambridge, to read Modern Languages, changing to Theology for Part II. After National Service he went to St Stephen's House, Oxford, to prepare for ordination and while there he was also a member of Keble College, writing a doctorate entitled "Augustine and the Monastic Life" under the supervision of the Lady Margaret Professor, Canon F.L. Cross.

In 1961 he was ordained curate of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney, where he was to serve until 1967 in a large and active high-church parish. While there he was able to continue to pursue his scholarly interests, spending a period at the Catholic University of Louvain; but it was right that he should return to St Stephen's House (first as Tutor and then, in 1971, as Vice-Principal) for in this context he was able to foster in others his commitment to a pastoral and teaching ministry founded on the intellectual resources, particularly of the patristic period, of the Christian tradition.

These foundations are, of course, the common heritage of Christians (Roman, Protestant and Orthodox), and Halliburton's knowledge in this area, and also his appreciation of developments in continental Catholic scholarship, made him an ideal and obvious consultant (from 1971 to 1981) to the dialogue between the Church of England and Rome which grew from the openings of the Second Vatican Conference. His chief scholarly interest was in the study of liturgy and he wrote widely in this area, as well as publishing in 1986 The Authority of a Bishop as a contribution to the ecumenical conversations in which he was engaged.

It was while he was newly back to St Stephen's House that, in 1968, he married Jenny. His devotion to scholarly matters was considerable, and the van in which they went on honeymoon was known as "Augustine". But John's devotion to, and delight in, family life was constant thereafter, and if he hoped to pass on to his four children his love of scholarship, in particular of the classics, he was equally ready to chase disobedient dogs in the Parks in Oxford, climb drainpipes to rescue a three-year-old daughter who couldn't undo a lock, and to demonstrate world-class long-jump techniques on beaches in Wales (his own lack of athleticism notwithstanding).

In 1975 he was appointed Principal of Chichester Theological College. Such institutions have probably never been easy places, but the late Seventies must count amongst the most difficult of times in their histories. None the less, intellectually, pastorally and financially the college emerged stronger and healthier as a result of his seven years of skilled and sensitive guidance. Halliburton's influence on a generation of students was profound and many remained in close touch with him up until his death.

The move in 1982 to All Souls Church, St Margaret's, Twickenham, gave him greater opportunity to write and lecture and during this time he continued as an active member of the Church of England's Doctrine Commission, which he had joined in 1978.

His thinking was directed to the theology of pastoral care and mission (and he published Educating Rachel on the subject in 1987), but his thinking was itself rooted in a ministry of visiting and befriending. The parish had its smart quarter, so to speak, and Halliburton would call on Greg Dyke "to see how the heathens are", as is fondly remembered, but he was known just as well on the council estates. Bereavement, divorce, sickness, even court appearances, these are the occasions when people of all sorts turn to clergy known to be, as John Halliburton was, accessible, wise, patient and understanding.

St Margaret's was a happy place and time for Halliburton and his growing family, but his appointment in 1989 to a canonry of St Paul's (where he was Chancellor with a particular responsibility for education) was something which pleased him and was proper recognition of his experience, authority and talents.

It is a pity that in the wider world his contribution to St Paul's is chiefly known through the filter of a fly-on-the-wall documentary, St Paul's (1999), of the sort which, except to the most innocent, is known to bear little relation to reality. He became noted as the canon opposed to the ordination of women, and it was indeed the case that for serious and thoughtful reasons, arising especially from his concern for relations with the Roman Catholic Church, he was and remained doubtful as to the wisdom of the Church of England's actions on this matter.

But he was no campaigner or polemicist on the issue, and was in no way taken up with it as a concern. Those who knew his ministry at St Paul's will rather remember his talent for diverse friendships, his pastoral care for the community of staff and volunteers, his contribution arising from his own enthusiasms to preserving and enhancing the cathedral's artistic heritage, and the application of his considerable learning to the cataloguing of the important (and up till then, rather neglected) Wren library.

It is nearly five years ago that his youngest daughter, Charlie, as she was known, was killed in a road accident (a son had died in infancy), and he bore this sadness with, perhaps, too much of the stoicism which he had doubtless learnt as a child. (Something of the depth of his feelings was evident enough, however, in the passionate and accomplished playing at the piano of the works of Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann and Schubert; though he might also be heard playing jazz.)

But this private grief made John and Jenny and their home and family no less open to others in need of counsel, support and friendship, and quietly and unostentatiously, he continued his ministry as it had always been: one of faithfulness in prayer, worship, care and teaching, all grounded in a generous intellectual openness not only to the riches of Christianity but of the wider culture.

He died after a short illness having served a little over a year as Anglican chaplain in Pau, south-west France, where he went on his retirement from St Paul's in 2003. He bore his illness with the character that those who knew him would have expected.

If the Church of England has changed in his nearly 45 years of service to it, it will have changed for the worse if it no longer fosters ministries as humane, cultured and faithful as his.

Michael Banner



Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Sport
Jose Mourinho restrains his assistant manager Rui Faria, Fabio Borini celebrates his winning penalty and Connor Wickham equalises for Sunderland
sportChelsea 1 Sunderland 2: Deafeat is extra bitter as former Chelsea player Fabio Borini scores late penalty to seal victory
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit