Bruce Kenrick

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Bruce Kenrick.
Bruce Kenrick in the 1960s.

Rev Bruce Kenrick (18 January 1920 – 15 January 2007) was an English social activist and Minister in the United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland. He is best known for writing "Come out the Wilderness"[1] and as the founder of British housing organisation Shelter.[2]

Early life[edit]

Bruce Kenrick was born in Liverpool and initially trained as an accountant, but the outbreak of war saw him see service as a medic in the Gold Coast Defence Force and with paratroopers in Italy. Having practiced medicine during the war he decided to pursue a career as a doctor. He attended the University of Edinburgh where he switched to divinity having engaged in missionary work. He met his wife Isabel Witte, an historian, while at Edinburgh.


Kenrick went to work in the East Harlem Protestant parish project,[3] which was attached to Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. On his return to the UK he was ordained and went to work in Notting Hill, London - then an area marked by racial tension and bad landlords like Peter Rachman.[2]


In response to the poor housing conditions, Kenrick set up the Notting Hill Housing Trust, which maintained the fabric of the area, and ironically, laid the foundations for its later gentrification[citation needed]. The early days were not easy. It was out of the desire to put national pressure on local government to improve housing that Shelter was born at St Martin in the Fields in 1966.

After a dispute over the leadership of the organisation with Des Wilson, Kenrick left Shelter.[4] He remained a significant figure on the broad left in the church, and his membership of the Iona Community and work on the example set by the revolution in Cuba helped set the direction of radical Christianity in the UK.


  • "The New Humanity", Collins, 1956
  • "Come Out the Wilderness", Harper & Brothers, 1962 (US); Fontana, 1965
  • "A Man from the Interior - Cuba's Quest", Epworth, 1980


  1. ^ Michael White "Obituary: The Rev Bruce Kenrick", The Guardian, 19 January 2007
  2. ^ a b "Our history", Shelter, 9 March 2012
  3. ^ "East Harlem Protestant Parish, founded 1948", Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York
  4. ^ Obituary: "The Rev Bruce Kenrick ", The Scotsman, 24 January 2007