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A personal reflection from the Archdeacon of Sunderland

A personal reflection from the Venerable Stuart Bain - Archdeacon of Sunderland on the passing of the Rt Revd David Jenkins, who was a former Bishop of Durham.

Bishop Paul meets one of his predecessors - Bishop David Jenkins at Barnard Castle St Mary’s Church when he was announced as the next Bishop of Durham Credit: Keith Blundy

“Gosh what can one say about David.

Who could possibly forget his electrifying sermon at his enthronement which happened during the miners’ strike in 1984 and his less than flattering comments about Ian MacGregor the head of the NCB?!

The first and only time I have ever heard spontaneous applause during a sermon in Durham Cathedral.

David was never shy of making political statements but it was clear to me that this was driven by a clear belief in social justice rooted so often in the teaching of the OT prophets.

When Bishop David retired I was at a gathering at Spennymoor Town Hall and someone came over to me having seen my dog collar and I think knowing who I was.

He explained he was from the Durham NUM and he said, “

I just want to shake your hand and say thank you for your Bishop”.

Not the usual thing Durham miners had to say about the Bishop of Durham!

His intervention and support 10 years earlier had not been forgotten.

David was a master of the one liners “God is as he is in Jesus” and “You can’t keep a good God down” and even his oft misquoted comment about the resurrection “The resurrection is more than just a conjuring trick with bones”.

I found myself remembering his sermons and being inspired by them.

Occasionally one did get a bit worried when the twinkle seemed to appear in his eye when he was speaking and you were never quite sure what he would say next.

As we know going off script sometimes got him into real hot water, but locally and nationally we knew we had a Bishop of Durham.

Often his more controversial comments about God got people talking about theology, debating and thinking about there faith and frankly that had to be a good thing.

He often got quite frustrated with diocesan structures and politics and he did not have the ability to hide this in my experience.

However as bishop of the diocese I found him to be pastoral and supportive opening up opportunities for me to develop personally within my ministry.