15th February 2019

A tribute by Bob Hunt

All Nations has learned of the passing into glory of former tutor Margaret JonesMargaret Jones. Margaret played a key role in the founding and development of our college and is fondly remembered by her colleagues and students as a dynamic, pioneering tutor.

Margaret was born into a Brethren family, one of four children. She studied at Trinity College Dublin where she read Natural Sciences. This led her on to teach science at Warrington High School for Girls. In 1957 she left this post to become a Travelling Secretary for ISCF (the Inter School Christian Fellowship), working mainly across the south of England.

In the early 1960s she went to London Bible College (now the London School of Theology) and with great relish studied for a Bachelor of Divinity degree. While there she met her lifelong friend Anne Long. From London Bible College she applied for a vacancy to teach at Mount Hermon Missionary Training College for women, under the Principalship of Meg Foote. It was during Margaret’s time at Mount Hermon that decisions were taken to amalgamate with Ridgelands College and All Nations Missionary College into a co-educational establishment to be housed in new premises at Easneye.

Missionary co-education was new in the UK at that time and Margaret thrived in breaking ancient gender traditions and taboos. Alongside founding Principal David Morris she became a pioneering teacher of the college’s pastoral studies course, which incorporated the pastoral counselling insights of Dr Frank Lake of Nottingham University and the transactional analysis teaching of Dr Eric Berne.

The pastoral studies course was compulsory for all students, and was designed to promote personal and spiritual growth and equip students with insights to help others and understand and deal with pastoral issues cross-culturally.

Although it is commonplace now, Margaret helped to advance this combination of spiritual, physiological and theological understandings into her teaching and personal tutoring. Her enthusiasm engulfed her colleagues and tutoring was henceforward seen as being a totality of academic, spiritual and physical support. This helped to lead the college in its later statement of training being for ‘head, heart and hands’.

Another pioneering innovation of Margaret’s was a joint enterprise with Dr Marion Ashton, Dr Ruth Fowke and Dr Marjorie Foyle in offering short courses for mission leaders on the pastoral care of mission partners. The CEOs of all the major missions came and spent three days on several occasions working together on these issues.

Although she had never worked abroad herself, Margaret travelled extensively to witness cross-cultural ministries at first hand, most notably the work of BMMF (now Interserve). This led to her being a very active chair of Interserve’s personnel committee and a member of its general committee.

On her retirement in 1988 she returned north to live with her sister Olive in Warrington. She was ordained in Chester Cathedral in 1994 - typically being among the very first women priests in this country! She served as a non-stipendiary priest at St. Wilfred’s Grappenhall while also working for the Acorn Christian Healing Trust on their training courses in listening. She continued in helping with parish ministry until she sadly lost her sight. Even then some people would come to her for listening and ministry.

She coped courageously with blindness, but never lost her vision for caring for and helping others which had so characterised her life and ministry. Margaret died peacefully at the grand age of 90, with family around her reading poems and the Bible. We praise God for her life and influence.

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