Nicky Gumbel

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Nicky Gumbel
Nicky Gumbel.jpg
Gumbel in 2009
Nicholas Glyn Paul Gumbel

(1955-04-28) 28 April 1955 (age 67)
London, England
Alma mater
Occupation(s)Priest, author, barrister
(m. 1978)
ReligionChristianity (Anglican)
ChurchChurch of England
  • 1986 (deacon)
  • 1987 (priest)
Offices held

Nicholas Glyn Paul Gumbel (born 1955), known as Nicky Gumbel, is an English Anglican priest and author in the evangelical and charismatic traditions.[1][2] He is known as the developer of the Alpha Course, a basic introduction to Christianity supported by churches of many Christian traditions. He was Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton in the Diocese of London, Church of England from 2005 to 2022.

Early life and career[edit]

Nicky Gumbel was born on 28 April 1955 in London, England. He is the son of Walter Gumbel, a German secular Jew[3] from Stuttgart whose licence to practise law in that city was withdrawn in one of the early Nazi purges. Walter Gumbel emigrated to Britain and became a successful barrister.[4] Gumbel's mother, Muriel, was a barrister and nominal Christian.[5]

Gumbel was educated at Eton College. He studied law at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1976;[3][6] as per tradition,[citation needed] his BA degree was later promoted to a Master of Arts (MA) degree.[7] He converted to Christianity while attending university in 1974.[5] After graduating from university, Gumbel followed in his father's footsteps and became a practising barrister.[3] Meanwhile, he became a regular worshipper at Holy Trinity Brompton Church, Knightsbridge.[8] In January 1978 Gumbel married, at the church,[9] Pippa, with whom he would go on to have three children.[10]

In 1982 Gumbel announced his decision to leave the bar to train for ordination in the Church of England. In 1983 he began theological studies and training for ordained ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.[3] He graduated with a BA degree in 1986; as per tradition,[citation needed] his BA degree was later promoted to an MA degree.[7]

Ordained ministry[edit]

Gumbel was ordained in the Church of England as a deacon in 1986.[7] After some difficulty in finding a curacy, he joined the staff of his "home" church of Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) in the Diocese of London.[3] He was ordained as a priest in 1987.[7] In 1996, the Bishop of London appointed him Alpha Chaplain, though he remained at HTB as a curate.[11] In 2005, Gumbel was officially installed as Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton Church.[7] The previous vicar, Sandy Millar, had retired from stipendiary ministry and became an assistant bishop in the Diocese of London.[citation needed]

In 2007, Gumbel was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Gloucestershire as recognition of his broad contribution to the wider church through Alpha.[citation needed]

Alpha Course[edit]

In 1990, Gumbel took over the running of the Alpha Course that had been running there since 1977.[8] The course was transformed under his leadership from being one designed for new Christians to one primarily for those outside the church who would not consider themselves Christians.[citation needed] Gumbel serves as the public face of the course, being described by James Heard as something of a "Weberian charismatic leader".[12]

Gumbel is the author of a number of books related to the Alpha Course, including Questions of Life which has sold over 1,000,000 copies.[citation needed] Voted "Christian Book of the Year" in 1994, it has been published in 48 languages.[citation needed] Other related books include Why Jesus, Searching Issues, Telling Others, A Life Worth Living, Challenging Lifestyle, Heart of Revival, and 30 Days.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Old, Hughes Oliphant (2010). The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church. Vol. 7. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 487. ISBN 978-0-8028-1771-6.
  2. ^ Cross, Anthony R. (2013). Recovering the Evangelical Sacrament: Baptisma Semper Reformandum. Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-62032-809-5.
  3. ^ a b c d e Bell, Matthew (31 March 2013). "Inside the Alpha Course – British Christianity's Biggest Success Story". The Independent. Archived from the original on 20 June 2022. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  4. ^ "The London Gazette - 7 May 1940" (PDF). The London Gazette. 7 May 1940.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ a b Heard, James (2012). Inside Alpha: Explorations in Evangelism. Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-60899-450-2.
  6. ^ Bell, Matthew (30 November 2013). "Alpha: The Slickest, Richest, Fastest-Growing Division of the Church of England". The Spectator. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Nicholas Glyn Paul Gumbel". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  8. ^ a b Gumbel, Nicky (28 August 2009). "Nicky Gumbel Interview Transcript". The Guardian. Interviewed by Rutherford, Adam. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  9. ^ Aitken, Jonathan (2006). Heroes and Contemporaries. London: Continuum. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-8264-7833-7.
  10. ^ Ronson, Jon (21 October 2000). "Catch Me If You Can". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  11. ^ Gumbel, Nicky (21 September 2005). "Interview: Rev Nicky Gumbel, Alpha Course Chaplain". Christian Today. Interviewed by Clark, Andrew. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  12. ^ Heard, James (2012). Inside Alpha: Explorations in Evangelism. Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-60899-450-2.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]