Canon Keith Weston: Bible expositor known as one of the finest of his generation

 

Keith Weston, rector of St Ebbe's Church, Oxford, was widely regarded as one of the foremost Bible expositors of his generation. He played a vital part in an ambitious plan by the then Inter-Varsity Fellowship (now UCCF) to see Bible-teaching churches in all UK and Irish university towns. Weston's twofold ministry was to allow scripture to inform the thinking of his church members in whatever sphere they served, and to raise up other preachers who would do the same.

Weston took his Anglican churchmanship seriously. He was a member of General Synod for 10 years in the 1970s and '80s, sitting on its Dioceses Commission, and serving a three-year term on its Panel of Chairmen. He was a member of the Bishop of Oxford's Council, and an honorary canon of Christ Church Cathedral.

In 1985 he moved to Norwich as diocesan director of ordinands, and was chaplain to the Norfolk County Fire Service. On a wider UK level, he served as a trustee of UCCF, and in 1987-88 as its president; and as Chair of the globally renowned Keswick Convention. His Keswick ministry brought invitations from its sister movements on five continents, often to preach to tens of thousands. This commitment to world mission was reflected in the life of the congregation. Missionaries were sent out from St Ebbe's as theological educators, schoolteachers, doctors and pastors. Valedictory services were highlights of church life. While the word "glocal" has entered the lexicon only recently, men like Keith Weston were practising it as a value decades before. There was constant interplay in his thinking, praying and preaching between global and local.

Michael Nazir-Ali, later Bishop of Rochester and now a leading figure in Muslim-Christian dialogue, was a member of St Ebbe's as a doctoral student, and honorary curate; among undergraduates in the congregation in the 1960s were NT Wright (New Testament theologian and former Bishop of Durham; also an honorary curate) and Chris Sugden (founder of Anglican Mainstream). Future academics included Oliver O'Donovan (Regius Professor of Moral Theology at Oxford), and Denis Alexander (biochemist and Christian apologist).

Keith Aitken Astley Weston was born in 1926, the third son of Sir Arthur Astley Weston, chief legal advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in the 1940s, and Margaret Ethelwyn Gibbs. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he read modern languages, and then at Ridley Hall, where he trained for ordination. It was during service as a captain in the Royal Artillery in Italy and Palestine that he first sensed a call to ordination. His years in the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU) proved formative, and he set his sights on service overseas, but was turned down for health reasons. In 1954 he married Margaret Reed.

Weston's keen mind, sense of compassion, and sense of humour fitted him for a parish which proved demanding at every level. Running from the edge of the town centre to the River Thames, St Ebbe's parish is among the most diverse in the Church of England. When he arrived in 1964 major redevelopment was afoot, with hundreds of Victorian terraced houses with outside lavatories being demolished to give way to council flats, a shopping mall and a multi-storey car park.

After a compulsory purchase order on the rectory, in the not-so-Elysian Paradise Square, a new rectory was completed in 1971 adjoining the medieval church, which is sandwiched between Pembroke College and the Westgate Centre, and surrounded by shops and bars – a literal fusion of town and gown. Margaret's hospitality became legendary, with many people's problems sorted out at the rectory kitchen table. Here, as one former curate recalls, students found "faith, answers, challenge and friendship".

Weston was a regular speaker at the annual Keswick Convention. He was also a favourite on the speaking circuit for the university Christian Unions. Students loved him. There was little glamour in train journeys to speak to campus meetings, but it was a hallmark in that time of giants such as Weston and John Stott, and Scottish counterparts such as James Philip and Eric Alexander, that these men would travel hundreds of miles to do so. He was always back in St Ebbe's for the 8am Sunday communion service, even if it meant catching the milk train.

Preaching was Weston's passion. In the church register it was more important to him to enter the passage expounded than the name of the preacher. "I would find it difficult," he told one curate at interview, "if you were a duffer in the pulpit." The curate, now Dean of Jersey, was appointed, and proved he was not. Weston continued to preach in retirement, in Thame and nearby, despite increasing frailty; he was still preaching a few months before he died.

Keith Aitken Astley Weston, Bible expositor: born Addiscombe, Croydon 30 July 1926; married 1954 Margaret Reed (two sons, two daughters); died Oxford 5 February 2013.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Field of broken dreams: Andy Bell visits Passchendaele
news5 News's Andy Bell visited the killing fields of the Great War, and his ancestor - known only from his compelling war diary - came to life
Travel
travel
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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In my grandfather's First World War footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during the war. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end