John Taylor (bishop of Winchester)

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John Vernon Taylor (11 September 1914 – 30 January 2001) was an English bishop and theologian who was the Bishop of Winchester from 1974 to 1984.

Taylor was educated at St Lawrence College, Trinity College, Cambridge, St Catherine's Society and Wycliffe Hall at Oxford, and the Institute of Education.[1]

His father, John Ralph Strickland Taylor, had been Vice-Principal of Ridley Hall, Cambridge, and then Bishop of Sodor and Man from 1943 to 1954.

He was ordained in the Church of England in 1938.[2] He spent five years engaged in Christian ministry in England, (from 1938-40 as a curate at All Souls, Langham Place, and then from 1940-43 as curate of St Helen's in the Diocese of Liverpool). He then felt drawn to overseas missionary work; unable to do so immediately because of wartime travel restrictions, he obtained a teaching qualification at London University. In 1945, with the ending of World War II, he moved to Mukono, Uganda, as a missionary working in theological education. He returned to England in 1954 and worked for the International Missionary Council. In 1959 he became Africa Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, and in 1963 he succeeded Max Warren as its General Secretary, remaining in post until 1973. He then served as Bishop of Winchester from 1974 to 1984, succeeding Falkner Allison, an old fashioned Evangelical much loved by all parties within the diocese.

He was the first priest to be consecrated directly to the See of Winchester since William Day in 1595, and was respected throughout the diocese and beyond mainly by liberals and modernists, but failed to gain the trust of Anglo-Catholics. A product of Wycliffe Hall, with connections with All Souls, Langham Place, he was nevertheless a liberal evangelical rather than a conservative one. When first consecrated, he initially caused some amusement by refusing to wear a mitre and ordering that it be carried in front of him on a cushion in processions. After that one occasion he reverted to custom and wore it.

In the Diocesan contribution to Parish Magazines he wrote a series of articles entitled "Rose Window", which among other views asserted that Christ did not intend to found a church and that the new eucharistic rites in the Alternative Service Book together with the new mass of the Roman Catholic Church were the work of the Holy Spirit.[citation needed] From the pulpit he campaigned vigorously against the Book of Common Prayer and in favour of the Alternative Service Book. He achieved some notoriety by suggesting that a service to be said after abortion be added to the ASB.[citation needed]

The most notable of his books were The Go-Between God (1972) and The Christlike God (1992), both of which remain in print. Enough is enough (1975) was an early book of the environmentalist movement, making the theological case for resisting consumerism and looking after our planet.


  • The Primal Vision: Christian Presence amid African Religion (London: SCM 1963; New Edition, SCM Classics 2001)
  • The Go-Between God: The Holy Spirit and the Christian Mission (London: SCM 1972; New Edition, SCM Classics 2002).
  • For All the World (1966)
  • Enough is enough (London: SCM: 1975)
  • The Growth of the Church in Buganda: An Attempt at Understanding (1980)
  • Weep Not for Me: Meditations on the Cross and the Resurrection (1986)
  • The Christlike God (London: SCM 1992).
  • Bishops on the Bible: Eight Bishops on the Role and Relevance of the Bible Today (1994)
  • A matter of life and death (London: SCM 1986)
  • Kingdom Come (1989)
  • A Christmas Sequence and Other Poems (1989)

Posthumous collections:

  • The Easter God and his Easter People (2003)
  • The Incarnate God (2006)


  • Poet, Priest and Prophet by David Wood.

External links[edit]


Christian Mission with John V Taylor


  1. ^ ‘TAYLOR, Rt Rev. John Vernon’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2007; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 24 March 2008
  2. ^ ‘TAYLOR, Rt Rev. John Vernon’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2007; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 24 March 2008 states that he was ordained deacon in 1956 and priest in 1957, which is an error as Crockford's Clerical Directory states that he was ordained a deacon in 1938 and a priest in 1939. It also states correctly that he was curate of All Souls, Langham Place from 1938 until 1940
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Falkner Allison
Bishop of Winchester
Succeeded by
Colin James