JOHN TINSLEY's theology equipped him to face sadness in life, writes The Ven Jeffrey Maples.
His inaugural lecture as Professor of Theology at Leeds University in 1963 was entitled 'Christian Theology and the Frontiers of Tragedy', a theme developed in the 1982 Bishop John Prideaux Lectures at Exeter University, Tragedy, Irony and Faith. These and others, with numerous important articles, were published in Tell it Slant (1990).
Fluent in French and German, Tinsley developed links between Bristol, Bordeaux and Hanover. He preached in French in Bordeaux Cathedral on an ecumenical occasion and was the Anglican chairman of the Anglican-Reformed International Commission in 1981-84.
He rejoiced to spend holidays in France and had extensive knowledge of French art and Romanesque architecture.
While at Leeds he was a member of the Commission which produced the 1970 Durham Report on Religious Education, The Fourth R, and of the 1971 Carlisle Commission on the work of dioceses in religious education. As bishop he became chairman of the Church of England Board of Education and spoke on that subject both in the General Synod and the House of Lords. He was also a member of the Home Office Committee on Film Censorship and Pornography and of the Court of Bristol University.
But Tinsley never allowed these wider responsibilities to interfere with his ministry in the diocese. Many individuals valued his deep personal concern, while he endured much misunderstanding over closure of redundant churches. Rural congregations may not always have understood his sermons but his farming background and warm humanity endeared him to them afterwards.
He deferred accepting appointment to Bristol until Marjorie his wife was cleared of suspected cancer but she succumbed less than two years later.
This personal tragedy was deeply felt by many in the diocese. Although offered other appointments he determined to carry on at Bristol, supported with exceptional devotion by his secretarial and domestic staff.