20.11.13

More on Rt Rev Gordon Mursell


I reprint parts of an article written by Adrian Jenkins  who describes Gordon Mursell as a God-improver. It gives us a little bit more information about the man who set the auditorium on fire, this morning. 

Gordon Mursell was only an innocent 16-year-old embarking on life’s great adventure when his father Philip, a London solicitor, died following a massive heart attack. Devastated by the loss of a kind man blessed with a strong character exuding vivacity and humour from every pore, he - in his own words - had reason to wonder ...

"I found it very difficult when he died," he said. "He just keeled over. He was only 47. That was a bit of a shock and it made me question a lot of things."
  
"It was that that gave me an idea that believing in God did not mean you had to be churchy. It just meant living a fuller life and being interested in making the world better. I realised there was more to having faith," Bishop Gordon said.

... his father ... did not have much time for church.

The seeds of Bishop Gordon’s initial religious indifference may have been sown in his early years when, aged eight, he was sent to Selwyn House at Broadstairs, a preparatory boarding school. The jarring emotional transition, regimentation, cold showers and male-only existence marked him for life.
"The experience gave me a deep feeling of sympathy with the outsider. I felt for the first time what it was like to be unhappy - and it stayed with me," he said. But happier times came between 1962 and 1966 at secondary school where he gained eight O-levels and failed two - German and religion. He went on to attain A-levels in history, Latin and ancient history and an open scholarship to Oxford. 

He gained a second in history after three years at Brasenose College before deciding to study for the priesthood.  "I was at Oxford at the time when Enoch Powell was making his speeches. I was not political but, when I listened to him and saw the effect it had on the Afro-Caribbean students, it sharpened me.

After training at Cuddesdon, he became a curate at Walton in Liverpool and threw himself into the life of the community, running two youth clubs and fighting housing cuts as chairman of the local community council. He then became a vicar in the Peckham district of London and studied for his Master of Divinity degree. Four years teaching pastoral studies and spirituality followed at Salisbury and Wells Theological College followed, a period in which he met his Scottish Catholic wife-to-be Anne whom he married at Salisbury Cathedral.
Salisbury gave him the time and space to contemplate the meaning of his theological learning and to consider individual spirituality. 

Stafford was Bishop Gordon’s next destination when, in 1991, he became team rector at the town’s Church of St Mary’s, an "enjoyable" position in which he played, not for the first time, key roles in the life of the community.

Eight years later, he was appointed Dean of Birmingham Cathedral, a "terrific" posting in the heart of the city which gave him responsibility for "a small building in a big town".

He became "very interested" in celebrating the contribution refugees and other outsiders bring to a big city and took on the chairmanship of Birmingham’s Refugee Week.

Lively, frank and engaging, the pint-sized preacher appears the antithesis of the stereotypical image of clerics as remote, stuffy, out-moded beings, more concerned with theological theorising than bringing faith alive and making it relevant. 
Speaking fluently but considering his words carefully, the giggle-ometer shoots off the scale as he supplements each theme with amusing codas about his mother, Birmingham City, Port Vale and ecclesiastical errors, peppering his comments with fruity phrases...

Bishop Gordon enjoys working and listening to people - "I’ve never met a boring person." He loathes tedious meetings and admits to being a less than skilled administrator, preferring instead to pursue his personal credo.

Describing himself as a biblical Catholic, he finds the Bible inspiring and, like evangelicals, is keen to spread its message of hope while, like Catholics, believes in the importance of belonging to something bigger than ourselves.

Bishop Gordon, recently made a Doctor of Divinity by the University of Birmingham, favours women bishops, but believes in working with those who oppose them; and on the thorny issue of homosexuality, is disgusted by discrimination but believes marriage is the preserve of men and women and that it is best for children if they are cared for by two life-long partners of the opposite sex.

"I want to help the church grow and to become a more effective agent for improving people’s lives and building good communities and families.
"It sounds boring, but that’s how we are going to overcome the evils we see around us. "My only personal ambition is to carry on learning. Every day there is something new," he said.

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