In: Nourishing Mission
David Ford Emeritus Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge Cambridge

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The extraordinarily diverse chapters of this book feel like an embodiment of Graham Kings in print, characterised above all by energy and encouragement, with connections in many directions.

The life-affirming energy can be followed geographically from England to Africa and back again, and around the world, inspired by a commitment to Christian mission within the horizon of the final words of the book: ‘It takes the whole world to understand the whole Gospel’. The energy pulses through one involvement after another, centred on the places where Graham has served as priest, teacher, bishop, and scholar in Kenya, Cambridge, Islington, Sherborne, and Lambeth, but also repeatedly overflowing these settings to make new relationships and take fresh initiatives. So many of us have known that first fateful moment when a visit, phone call or email from Graham heralds an invitation to take part in something he is envisaging, whether a theological project bringing together the north and south of the Anglican communion, or walking with a camel from Oxford to Cambridge.

But all this energetic enthusiasm is not just concentrated on Graham’s own projects. There is a lovely generosity about it that is, I think, summed up as his gift of encouragement. At every point in the thirty-five years covered by the chapters of this book there have been people who have been encouraged by Graham. He has affirmed them in their faith, thought, work, projects, and vocations, and has often spotted their further potential before they have realised it themselves. I myself think, for example, of Graham encouraging one of his students from Kabare, Joseph Galgalo, to apply to Cambridge for doctoral work, which I had the privilege of supervising, and of the blessing Joseph has been to me and so many others through his interweaving of church and academic life for the good of both Kenya and the Anglican Communion.

That talent for introducing people to others for mutual benefit leads into Graham’s habit of making connections in many directions. It is above all about connecting people, as confirmed by him having become the go-to person in several spheres if you wish to link up with their significant players. But the titles of chapters alone indicate many of the other types of connections that he has made: between parts of the world, Christianity and other religions, the Bible and almost everything, past and present, worship and the rest of life, different ways of being Christian, and more.

This is above all a book to think with, and by doing so readers will find themselves introduced to one set of questions and issues after another, and having their horizons stretched.

My own most sustained involvement with Graham came during his time in Cambridge from 1992 to 2000. During those years I came to appreciate Graham’s commitment to the long term flourishing of the institutions to which he is committed. He saw the need and potential of a place in Cambridge where Christianity around the world could be studied and researched. He conceived, and led as its founding director for its first five years, the Henry Martyn Centre for the study of mission and world Christianity, and has continued to be committed to it. In 2014 it became the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide, and now, in his retirement to Cambridge, Graham is once again supporting it energetically and playing a leading role in the new network of ‘Friends of CCCW’ which he helped to form.

This book is dedicated to Daniel W. Hardy, who, besides being Graham’s friend and supervisor for his doctoral studies, was also my father-in-law, colleague, co-author, and friend. The motto Graham has chosen is profoundly appropriate to Dan: ‘There are always greater depths to be sought out’. That connects well with those final words, ‘It takes the whole world to understand the whole Gospel’. Together they pose the challenge to all of us: how can we combine the depth with the breadth?

David Ford, Emeritus Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge

Cambridge May 2021

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