All who knew The Revd Canon John Fenton were saddened by the news of his death on the 27th of December. Canon Fenton was a Canon of Christ Church (1978-1991) and Sub Dean. His funeral is to be held at Christ Church on Friday the 9th of January at 11.30am. To read about Canon Fenton's life, click here .
John Fenton was the kind of priest the English like: friendly to everyone but not in the least pushy, intelligent but more interested in your view than his own and apparently diffident in his often surprising assertions. These features are of course clues to his wide-ranging influence, on individuals rather than official bodies.
It was reassuringly Anglican that he had been a real parish priest, in Hindley and Sheffield; and this no doubt coloured everything else. He was never an academic without being a pastor or a pastor whose head played no part in his human dealings. His brand of devout intelligence made easy his use of an earthy kind of candour.
Most of his life was spent in teaching in one context or another, including, in his final period at Christ Church, very many of the undergraduates reading Theology. Earlier, he played a major role for many years in the training of candidates for ordination – at Lincoln, Lichfield and St Chad’s College, Durham. And there was a long succession of books and articles on the writings of the New Testament, especially the Gospels. His Penguin Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew has been a standby for many over a long period, together with his work on the Gospel of John. He was often engaged in addressing conferences and other gatherings, whether of clergy or interested lay people, on New Testament subjects and their implications for faith. The latter were not always what you might have been expecting. Annual visits from the USA to Oxford to attend his summer schools gave him and his audiences great satisfaction, long after his official retirement. They constantly reappeared for more, and, like all who knew him, they will long cherish the memory of his gifts.
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