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03 November 2021

In Memoriam: Andrew G. Walker

Alan Cribb, writing on behalf of the School, remembers Andrew Walker who worked at ECS until 2010 and passed away on 26 October 2021.

Andrew G Walker

Andrew was a much-loved colleague who retired in 2010 becoming Emeritus Professor of Theology, Religion and Culture.

Andrew was an outstanding scholar and human being. He was brought up in Wales inside a close-knit fundamentalist Christian community, later becoming a sociologist of religion and bringing a striking breadth of vision to his highly inter-disciplinary theological work. He spent his whole life navigating, for himself and others, the intersection of Church history and worldly matters. His scholarship was prescient both substantively and methodologically. He pioneered the sociological study of the of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, one of the fastest growing and largest social movements in modern history, although when Andrew started giving it scholarly attention, it was considered fringe and no one was taking it seriously as a focus of study. He also refused to accept a distinction between the critical and normative aspects of social science scholarship, and modelled an approach combining empirical research and Theology that has become increasingly influential. Andrew was the founding Director of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture and was a devoted teacher who nurtured the work of an exceptionally talented group of doctoral students many of whom had, or have gone on to have, influential positions in the academy and Church.

By the time Andrew was in the School he was an eminent member of the Orthodox Church but, if anything, his form of belonging - of deep significance to him - was a platform for him to extend his sympathies and horizons ever more widely. Any room that contained Andrew was sure to have a good measure of kindness and wisdom in it. In day to day academic affairs Andrew routinely looked at the big picture – never pressing home his own interests when the broader good suggested a different answer. He had a profound understanding of human foibles, including his own, and enjoyed gossip which included the opportunity to get people’s pretensions into perspective. He was rightly admired as an eloquent and compelling speaker and a brilliant writer, but for those of us who were lucky enough to have worked with him in the School he is remembered as a wonderfully insightful and loving presence.