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Canon Keith Weston (1926-2013)

April 2013 | by Julia Cameron

Keith Weston, rector of St Ebbe’s Church, Oxford, from 1964-1985, has been called one of the foremost Bible expositors of his generation. While an Anglican by conviction, he ministered widely, not least through the Keswick Convention and UCCF.

     His expository preaching was full of substance, while always remaining accessible and pastorally applied.

     He and his wife, Margaret, arrived in Oxford at a time when inner city slums, which formed most of the parish, were giving way to new flats and a shopping precinct. At one time, the only residence that remained standing was the rectory. In due course, this faced compulsory purchase and the family moved into a new building, adjoining the church.

     St Ebbe’s stands on the edge of the city centre, between Pembroke College, where George Whitefield was a student, and the Westgate Shopping Centre.

     Mrs Weston worked closely with her husband in his ministry and welcoming people into their home. It was said at the packed thanksgiving service for Canon Weston’s life in St Mary’s, Thame, that ‘Keith and Margaret’ became used by the St Ebbe’s congregation as if one word.

     The Bible reading at this service, chosen beforehand by Mr Weston, was from Romans 8. His daughter, Ruth Mountstephen, said, ‘I would have liked to read it from Daddy’s Bible, but the page was so worn that it was torn’.

    

Compelling ministry

 

Students were drawn to Mr Weston’s preaching, and it was reported by a church warden, who had been a student in 1966, that, back then, people were ‘standing all over the place, even sitting on window ledges’.

     Throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Douglas Johnson, the first general secretary of the IVF/UCCF, urged sustained and strategic prayer for establishing Bible teaching churches in every university town.

     Oliver Barclay carried this on in the 1960s and, as those decades unfolded, the prayer became a reality and Mr Weston was a part of this work of God, just as others are now. The two-fold ministry was for Scripture to inform the thinking of church members and to raise up a new generation who would take on the baton of teaching and preaching at home and abroad.

     Mr Weston chaired the Keswick council from 1994 to 1997, often preaching at Keswick gatherings on all continents, and often to tens of thousands of people. In 1985, he moved to the Norwich diocese, to serve as diocesan director of ordinands, at the invitation of Bishops Maurice Wood and Timothy Dudley-Smith, two of his longstanding friends.

     Mr Weston, who had come to faith in Christ as a 12-year-old through Rev. E. J. H. Nash’s Varsity and Public Schools Camps, had first sensed God’s call to the pastoral ministry soon after leaving school, while serving as a captain in the Royal Artillery in Italy and Palestine.

     We thank God for his life and commend his wife, children and grandchildren to your prayers.

Julia Cameron

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