God Writes Straight with Crooked Lines Interweavings No 23 July 2017

Graham Kings

by Graham Kings

Date added: 31/07/2017

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God Writes Straight With Crooked Lines

Interweavings No 23, July 2017

By Graham Kings


‘God writes straight with crooked lines’ is a profound Filipino proverb.

In my final monthly Interweavings article, after two years as Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion, I would like to outline future plans, give thanks to God for the project’s publications, progammes, partners and people, and to ask for prayers for a new venture.

1.   Future Plans

The Mission Theology in the Anglican Communion project is being put on hold and a further announcement will be made at the beginning of 2018. I believe that God sometimes speaks through economic realities and thereby opens up the future for his people and his Church. I am pleased that new possibilities for the future of this initiative are being explored. 

On 31 July 2017, the day this Interweavings is published, I retire after two years as Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion, and take my pension (I will be 64 in October). But there is a new vocation: as well as continuing as Honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Southwark, I am delighted to respond to God’s new call to serve as ‘House for Duty’, part-time, Priest-in-Charge of St Matthew’s Church, Elephant and Castle, London. Set in the vibrant inner city, not far from Lambeth Palace, it has a small multicultural congregation on Sunday mornings and a growing monthly Spanish service in the afternoon: many Latin Americans live around Elephant and Castle. 

On 3 September 2017, I will be licensed by the Bishop of Southwark, Christopher Chessun, who has been a keen supporter of the project. I will then serve three days a week in the parish and will continue to research at Lambeth Palace Library for two days a week. A beautiful new Lambeth Palace Library is being built in the gardens of Lambeth Palace and is due to open in 2020.

My Honorary Fellowship, in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, at Durham University continues to the end of its three year period, 31 January 2018.

Alison and I will stay in the same clergy house, where we live at the moment, in Bermondsey, just east of Tower Bridge. Our three daughters live nearby in other parts of London, and Alison continues to practise as a psychotherapist. In God’s good time, we will move to our house in Cambridge, fully to retire…

Georgina Morgan, who served wonderfully as Executive Assistant, is now Executive Assistant to the chaplain of the Archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth Palace. 

2.   Publications of the Project so Far

I have greatly enjoyed pioneering these two extraordinary years of the project and give thanks to God, to global South theologians and to supporters for the following publications: 


3.   Programmes and Partners of the Project

These publications emanated from the project’s three programmes and from personal research: 

    •        20 UK seminars
    •        5 ‘writing-for-publication’ global conferences: Cairo (April 2016); Bengaluru (October 2016); Jerusalem (March 2017); Recife (April 2017); Fiji (June 2017) – the 6th will be in the Diocese of Dallas in May 2018, on ‘Evangelism and Witness’, to write the second of the Pre-Lambeth books in the project’s series
    •        4 ‘writing-for-publication’ sabbaticals at Durham, Oxford and Cambridge.


Papers from all three programmes have been published on the website.  

I am very grateful for the initiatives of the four partners of the project: the Archbishop of Canterbury, Durham University, the Church Mission Society and the United Society for Partners in the Gospel.

Three other encouraging institutions have been closely involved and I am grateful to them also: SPCK, the Anglican Communion Office and the Diocese of Southwark.

4.   Six Books Recommended 

I have been moved, impressed and influenced by the following three monographs and three collections of essays, and would like to recommend them:

Muthuraj Swamy, The Problem with Interreligious Dialogue: Plurality, Conflict and Elitism in Hindu-Christian-Muslim Relations (London: Bloomsbury, 2016). This is Muthuraj’s first major book based on his theoretical analysis and ethnographic research in South India, for his PhD in Edinburgh.

Sebastian Kim and Kirsteen Kim, Christianity as a World Religion: an Introduction (London: Bloomsbury, 2016, first ed. 2008). They wrote the book when Sebastian was Professor in Theology and Public Life at York St John University, and Kirsteen was Professor of Theology and World Christianity at Leeds Trinity University, UK, and they have both recently moved to academic posts at Fuller Theological College, USA.

John Bowker, Why Religions Matter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015). This is the culminating book of John’s distinguished academic career in religious studies, where he has served as Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge and Professor of Religious Studies at the Universities of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina State.

Gene L. Green, Stephen T. Pardue and K K Yeo (eds), Jesus without Borders: Christology in the Majority World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014). This is the first of Majority World Theological Series and has eight chapters from contextual Evangelical traditions.

Dieumeme Noelliste and Sung Wook Chung (eds), Diverse and Creative Voices: Theological Essays from the Majority World (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co, 2015). The 11 chapters are in four parts: God and Humanity; Christ and Salvation; The Holy Spirit and the Church; and Eschatology and Mission. 

KeumJu Jewel Hyum and Diphus C. Chemorion (eds), The Quest of Gender Equity in Leadership: Biblical Teachings on Gender Equity and Illustrations of Transformation in Africa (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2016). This is the first in new series, The House of Prisca and Aquila, and has a Foreword by Joseph D. Galgalo. There are 15 chapters in three parts: Survey and Analysis on Gender Equity and Leadership in Africa; Reflections on Biblical Equity and Leadership; and Transformation in Africa as Gender Equity is Practised. 


Concluding Thanksgiving

The purpose of the Mission Theology in the Anglican Communion project is: ‘To raise up new 'Doctors of the Church' in the global South to write, network, publish and engage with theologians in the global North, to renew the worldwide Church and influence society.’  

Thanks be to God that, over these two years so far, established and emerging Doctors of the Church have been encouraged. 

In particular I would like to thank:

The theologians, from across the world, who have written 80 diverse papers on our site and the theologians who have read and interacted with them.

Our four Continental Editors, Dr Muthuraj Swamy (General Editor and Asia) Revd Dr Lydia Mwaniki (Africa), Rt Revd Samy Shehata (Middle East), Prof Joanildo Burity (Latin America).

The Managers of the project, Bishop Nigel Stock (Bishop at Lambeth), Professor Michael Snape (Durham University), Canon Philip Mounstephen (Church Mission Society) and Canon Richard Bartlett (USPG). 

Andrew Harston, Deputy Head of Development, Durham University. 

Our Lambeth Mission Fellows, anonymous and generous personal donors. 

My wide-ranging support group of praying missiologists. 

My Executive Assistants, first Claire Reynolds and then Georgie Morgan. 

Martin Brasier, web manager of SPCK Assemblies, who built and still services our web site. The next article will be published in early 2018.


I would greatly value prayers for the project and for St Matthew’s Church. It is near a famous Underground station, Elephant and Castle, and so it may be appropriate to finish with a poem:   

                    Jesus Goes Undergound

She listens to her Walkman

         living in another world,

         ignoring her neighbour as herself.

He reads the Sun

         immersed in actors’ lives,

         washing his mind with soap.

They do not touch,

         insulated, isolated,

         marriage withdrawal symptoms

She scrunches monster munches,

         monosodium glutomate;

         bags of tasty emptiness.

He’s stuck in sniffing glue,

         addicted to cheap death;

         nobody knows the trouble he’s in.


To bring them to their senses and together,

         Jesus goes Underground.


He grabs the tube of glue

         and breathes the breath of God.

He throws the packet away

         and gives her bread.

He joins their hands in his

         and brings them warmth.

He folds the sun in half

         and beams a smile.

He slips the headphones from her ears

         and shares his world.           [i]



[i] Graham Kings, ‘Jesus Goes Underground’, in Mission Theological Advisory Group, Transparencies: Pictures of Mission through Prayer and Reflection (Church House Publishing, 2002), p. 5.




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