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Influencing Life & Work: Fran Beckett OBE

My two years of study with All Nations were over 40 years ago but had such a formative impact that I still carry the influences today...

Our alumna Fran Beckett OBE tells how All Nations has influenced her life and work

My two years of study with All Nations were over 40 years ago but had such a formative impact that I still carry the influences today. I started at the age of 22 not knowing where God was leading me but with a clear sense that it was a preparatory season. And it was.

There were three key things I experienced that have significantly shaped my life and relationship with God over the years. The first was something which was modelled rather than explicitly taught. Back then there were very few women in positions of Christian leadership in the UK. If you had leadership gifting you ended up exercising it outside the church or overseas! Meg Foote was the College Vice-Principal, and she exemplified strong, gracious, confident and sometimes challenging leadership – all with a twinkle in her eye and a deeply pastoral heart. She gave me hope that I had not realised I needed, and ever since then I have tumbled into leadership roles mostly without even looking for them.

These have including pioneering a highly experimental inner-city ‘emerging church’ (as they used to be called), becoming CEO of a national Christian charity where everyone assumed they would appoint a  man, and along the way chairing numerous boards from that of the local park through to a Home Office Advisory Committee as well as various national organisations and housing associations. In the early days I was one of very few women (sometimes the only one) in these settings or speaking at events. This was brought into sharp relief when as CEO of the Church Urban Fund much of my time was spent working with and seeking to influence Anglican bishops, all of them male.

The second All Nations legacy was learning it was OK to tussle with the Bible and that it contains many more riches than we imagine. Martin Goldsmith was my tutor and as someone who is not naturally an academic I would leave tutorials and head for the library brimming with enthusiasm to discover more. I was introduced to Kingdom theology, something evangelicals did not talk about in those days. And it was this that shaped and informed a deep personal passion to equip and inspire the church to be good news among those most on the margins.

And lastly, the All Nations emphasis on cross-cultural mission and the worldwide church influenced my decision to live in inner London for nearly 40 years. The vibrancy and challenge of multicultural urban life and mission is one that I have loved, and it has been an enormous privilege to work alongside many black-majority church leaders and others in community-building and mission.

Now living in Brighton, the three strands above continue but in a different form and at a gentler pace. There is now even time to write a detective novel, the main protagonist of which is a maverick inner-city woman vicar!

So, a huge ‘thank you’ to God for All Nations and for the truly life-changing two years I spent training for mission all that time ago.

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