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Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture

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             The Very Revd Eric Symes Abbott (1906 – 1983)

 

The Very Revd Eric Symes Abbott grew up in Nottingham and studied at Jesus College Cambridge.  He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1931.

He was Chaplain to King’s College London from 1932 to 1936, and also served as Chaplain to Lincoln’s Inn at the same time.  Before returning to King’s as Dean in 1945 he was Warden of Lincoln Theological College for nine years (1936-1945). 

Eric Abbott left King’s in 1955 and served as Warden of Keble College Oxford for four years, before being appointed Dean of Westminster in 1959, a post he held until his retirement in 1974.  In many ways he exemplified the relationship between Church and State, acting as Chaplain to King George VI from 1948 until the King’s death, and then as Chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II from her succession until his move to Westminster (he was subsequently appointed an Extra Chaplain to Her Majesty on his retirement, a post he then held until his death).  He was made a Fellow of King’s College London in 1946, a KCVO in 1966, and a Freeman of the City of Westminster in 1973.  His funeral was held in Westminster Abbey, and he is buried in the nave, close to the nave altar and the place from which the lecture is given; the stone which marks his grave carries the epitaph ‘Friend and counsellor of many, he loved the Church of England, striving to make this House of Kings a place of pilgrimage and prayer for all peoples. Pastor Pastorum’.

His particular interest in matters of spirituality and pastoral theology was clear from early in his ministry, when in 1939 six of his addresses on prayer were published (as Escape or Freedom?).  Further publications included Foothold of faith (1943), Education in the spiritual life (1961), and The Compassion of God and the Passion of Christ (1963).  Generations of Anglican clergy owed much to Eric Abbott’s teaching and example, and following his death there was a strong feeling that there should be a lasting memorial to this influential figure, which should continue to encourage exploration of and reflection on issues which had been close to his heart.

In 1985 the Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Fund was therefore endowed by friends and former colleagues to provide for an annual lecture on spirituality and pastoral theology, often interpreted in the widest sense. 

In the same year, The Revd John Robson LVO gave the sermon at the Memorial Eucharist service for Eric Symes Abbott. You can read the sermon here.

The first Eric Symes Abbott Memorial Lecture was delivered by Cardinal Basil Hume in June 1986 in Westminster Abbey, and subsequent lectures have taken place every year since then ; while past venues have varied between London, Oxford, and Lincoln (to reflect Abbott’s appointments), the current pattern is for the Lecture to be delivered at Westminster Abbey and Keble College Oxford on successive days in May.  The Lecture is now a regular part of the lecture programmes at both Westminster Abbey and Keble College Oxford, and has a growing constituency.

In 2006, the centenary year of Eric Symes Abbott's birth, his "The Mystery of the Transfiguration: Seven Meditations" booklet was reprinted. You can read the text here or order one of the remaining limited copies here.

This year's lecture will be held at Westminster Abbey on Thursday 24 May and repeated at Keble College, Oxford, on Friday 25 May. The Revd Richard Coles, Cleric, Broadcaster and former Communard, will deliver this year's lecture on the theme of 'Beating the Bounds: Parish Ministry and Spirituality Today'. Tickets are free, but must be booked - book your ticket here.

Past copies of the lecture text booklets are available to purchase. The most recent year's lecture booklet costs £1 per booklet + £0.50 P&P per order. Past year's lecture booklets cost £0.50 per booklet + £0.50 P&P per order. A limited number of the past 10 years lecture booklets will be available to purchase at the lecture events. Contact the Office of the Dean to find out how you can buy any of the booklets.

Previous lectures in the series:
 1986

I. Cardinal Basil Hume 

[untitled]                                                                                 

Read the lecture

OUT OF PRINT 
 1987         

II. The Rt Revd Simeon Nkoane CR

“Spirituality in a Violent Society

Read the lecture

Buy the booklet

 1988

 III. Dame Janet Baker

“Spirituality and Music” 

Read the lecture  OUT OF PRINT
 1989

 IV. The Revd Professor Rowan Williams, University of Oxford

“On Being Creatures”

Read the lecture

Buy the booklet

 

 1990

 V. The Very Revd Alan Jones, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

“For Their Sakes I Consecrate Myself: Priesthood and the search

for a credible Catholicism”  

Read the lecture OUT OF PRINT
 1991

 VI. Timothy Schroder

“The Spiritual in Art” 

Read the lecture OUT OF PRINT
 1992

VII. The Revd John Fenton

“John of the Cross and the Gospel according to Mark”

Read the lecture OUT OF PRINT
 1993

 VIII. Angela Tilby

“He Made the Stars Also…”

Read the lecture Buy the booklet
 1994

 IX. The Revd David Conner

“Christian Counsel and the Meaning of Wholeness”  

Read the lecture OUT OF PRINT
 1995

X. The Most Revd Richard Holloway DD, Primus of the Scottish

Episcopal Church

“Deconstructing the Church’s Ministry”

Read the lecture Buy the booklet 
 1996

XI. David Hare

“When Shall We Live?”  

Read the lecture OUT OF PRINT
 1997

XII. The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Lord Habgood

“Waiting for God”

Read the lecture Buy the booklet
 1998

XIII. Canon Eric James FKC

“Spirituality, Shakespeare and Royalty”  

Read the lecture OUT OF PRINT
 1999

XIV. The Rt Hon Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss

“Who is to judge? The role of the judiciary in ethical issues”

Read the lecture Buy the booklet
 2000

XV. The Revd Canon Dr Martyn Percy

“A Knowledge of Angles: How spiritual are the English?” 

Read the lecture Buy the booklet 
 2001

XVI. Professor Stephen Clark, University of Liverpool

“Deep Time: Does It Matter?”

Read the lecture Buy the booklet
 2002

XVII. The Revd Mark Oakley, St Paul’s Covent Garden

“Spiritual Society, Secular Church? Private prayer and

public religion”  

Read the lecture OUT OF PRINT
 2003

XVIII. The Revd Professor Duncan B Forrester, University of Edinburgh

“Beyond Racism and Sectarianism: Is Religion the Problem or the Solution?”

Read the lecture Buy the booklet
 2004

XIX. Father Timothy Radcliffe OP

“The Crisis of Truth Telling in our Society” 

Read the lecture OUT OF PRINT
 2005

XX. The Revd Nicholas Holtam, St Martin-in-the-Fields

“A Room with a View: The Aspiration of a Parish Church”

Read the lecture Buy the booklet
 2006

 XXI. The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of Leicester

“A New Song in a Strange Land: the contribution of women to the priestly ministry of the Church”

Read the lecture Buy the booklet
 2007

XXII. The Revd Dr Richard A. Burridge, Dean of King’s College London

“Being Biblical? Slavery, Sexuality, and the Inclusive Community” 

Read the lecture OUT OF PRINT
 2008

XXIII. The Revd Canon Dr Jane Shaw, University of Oxford

“The Mystical Turn: Religious Experience in the Modern World” 

Read the lecture Buy the booklet 
 2009

XXIV. The Revd Professor Alister McGrath, King’s College London

“Religious and Scientific Faith: The Case of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species 

Read the lecture Buy the booklet 
 2010

XXV: The Rt Revd the Lord Harries of Pentregarth, former Bishop of Oxford

“The End of the Permissive Society? Towards a Christian Understanding of the Common Good” 

Read the lecture Buy the booklet 
 2011

XXVI: The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres KCVO, Bishop of London

“The Word in Print: Does the King James Bible have a Future?”  

Read the lecture Buy the booklet 
 2012

XXVII: The Rt Revd Dr Peter Selby, formerly Bishop of Worcester &

Bishop to HM Prisons

“Mis-Establishment: Locating, and re-locating, the Church of England” 

Read the lecture OUT OF PRINT
 2013

 XXVIII: Professor Dame Averil Cameron FBA FKC, formerly Warden of

Keble College, Oxford

“Constantine’s Vision and the Church Today: From the Battle of the

Milvian Bridge (AD312) to the Twenty-First Century”

Read the lecture Buy the booklet 
2014 

XXIX: The Revd Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields and

Visiting Professor in Christian Ethics, King’s College London

“Beyond Justice” 

Read the lecture 

Listen to the lecture

Buy the booklet
 2015

XXX: The Revd Lucy Winkett, Rector, St James’s Church Piccadilly

“Blessed are the Hypocrites?”Saying sorry in a tell-all age 

Read the lecture

Listen to the lecture

Buy the booklet
2016

XXXI: Professor Sir Roger Scruton, Writer and Philosopher

"The Sacred, the Profane and the Desecrated"

Read the lecture

Listen to the lecture

Buy the booklet
2017

XXXII: Salley Vickers, former psychoanalyst, literary critic and author

'Faith & Imagination: How the Arts speak to the reality of the Unseen'

Read the lecture

Listen to the lecture

Buy the booklet

 

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