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St John's College

Robin Greenwood

Robin was born in Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast and spent his childhood in Boston Spa. He prepared for ordination in the Anglican Church at St Chad’s College, University of Durham, (BA Hons, Theology, Diploma in Theology, and MA in Theology. Thesis title Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. A study in Vatican II documents). His doctoral studies were supervised by David F. Ford (A Theology of Ordained Ministry, University of Birmingham, UK, 1992).

He was ordained deacon (1970) and priest (1971) in the then Diocese of Ripon. He served initially as curate at Adel (Leeds) followed by five years as Minor Canon and Succentor at Ripon Cathedral. In 1978 he was appointed Vicar of St Wilfrid’s, Halton (Leeds) and in 1986 as Diocesan Residentiary Canon at Gloucester and simultaneously Director of Continuing Ministerial Training (Years 1-4), Diocesan Missioner and Director of Lay Training. Subsequently he was appointed Director of Ministry in Chelmsford Diocese and Honorary Canon of the Cathedral. During this period he was appointed Chair of the national Continuing Ministerial Education Committee and Co-Director of the Edward King Institute for Ministry Development. His own consultant for a decade was the late Anglican ecclesiologist Daniel D. Hardy. In 2000 he became Provincial Ministry Officer in the Church in Wales. In 2005 he was appointed Vicar of St Mary’s Monkseaton in Newcastle Diocese.

He has at St Michael’s Llandaff and Lampeter, University of Wales and regularly contributed to diocesan programmes in the UK. Robin has also taken a leading part in learning events in Australia, Kenya, New York, New Zealand, San Francisco and Sweden. He has served as a Co-Director of the Edward King Institute for Ministerial Development. He has been a Board Member of Lindisfarne (Regional Training Partnership), acted as a vocational adviser in Bishops’ Advisory Panels and as part of the Church of England’s Quality Assurance and Enhancement in Ministerial Education processes for Colleges and Courses. From 2013-2016 he held a William Leech Research Fellowship at Durham University (based at St John’s) and is now a Visiting Fellow and remains Canon Emeritus of Chelmsford Cathedral.

As a practical ecclesiologist, Robin’s approach intentionally interweaves scriptural, theological, psycho-dynamic, spirituality and community development insights. In particular he has practised and written extensively on renewed patterns of ordained and licensed ministry that can release the imagination and energy for mission of the whole people of God. The role of bishops and dioceses in the development of local ministry development teams, as a focus for emerging patterns of missional discipleship and evangelism, is a key area to which he has given attention.

In his work as William Leech Research Fellow Robin engaged over a two period with six churches across the ecumenical spectrum in the North East. With the theological focus of living in God’s blessing and becoming an agent of blessing, Robin encouraged church communities and their leaders to rediscover their identity and purpose within their locality. This work has been presented at international consultations in Hungary (Anglican-Lutheran conversations on churches in marginalized situations 2014) and in the USA (“What is the New Edge in the development of local missionary and ministering communities?” 2015) and published in a number of journals and at more length in Sharing God’s Blessing: How to Renew the Local Church SPCK 2016.

Robin is married to Claire, also an Anglican priest. They live in Skipton in North Yorkshire and are parents to two sons and one daughter and seven grandchildren.

His published writings include:

Articles and reviews for Crucible, The Tablet, Theology, and Ecclesiology: Journal for Mission, Ministry and Unity, and the Church Times

Transforming Priesthood : A New Theology of Mission and Ministry, SPCK, 1994

Transforming Church: Liberating Structures for Ministry, SPCK 2002

Power, SPCK 2005 (with Hugh Burgess)

Local Ministry: Story, Process and Meaning, SPCK, 2006 (with Caroline Pascoe)

Parish Priests: For the Sake of the Kingdom, SPCK, 2009

Being God’s People: the confirmation and discipleship handbook SPCK 2011, (with Sue Hart)

Being Church: the formation of Christian Community, 2013.

Sharing God’s Blessing: how to renew the local church, SPCK, 2016.


“An Ecumenical Theology of Ministry” in Martyn and Emma Percy, Ian Markham, The Study of Ministry: A Comprehensive Survey of Theory and Best Practice, SPCK, February 2019.

Please see below for Robin's report on his 2016 two month journey, facilitating conferences and workshops in five Australian Dioceses. The paper was requested by the Australian Anglican Commission on Ministry.


St John's College, Durham is a recognised College of Durham University and incorporates Cranmer Hall. Charity No. 1141701 Limited Company No. 113496 (England and Wales) VAT No. 334 6364 57.