Andrew Walker – Memory Eternal!
Andrew Walker, a founding member of our parish of St Peter & St Paul in London and Professor of Theology Culture & Education at King’s College London until his retirement in 2010, passed away peacefully on the 26th October 2021. Costa Carras, a long-term friend and collaborator in the work of our Church in this country wrote the following reflection.
Seventy years ago British Orthodox were a rare species. Today they are a small but significant group in the country's religious life. Andrew Walker was one of those who played an important role in this gradual development. Several features distinguished him from other prominent figures. First, he was entirely British, born into the Elim Foursquare Gospel Church. Second, he pursued an academic career as a social scientist, notably at Kings College London. Third, he suffered a great deal in consequence of his background and also indeed inflicted suffering on others in his turn. One of his distinguishing marks was indeed bravery in the face of suffering, which he displayed to the full in his long battle with Parkinson’s Disease, assisted and and supported throughout by his devoted second wife, Susan.
Andrew made at least three major contributions to the growth of Orthodox Christianity in these islands. His first was in the 1970s when he was chosen by the late Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh as one of a three- member team to draft Statutes for the Diocese. The result was a judicious blend of the forward-looking provisions of the 1917 Church Council in Moscow, which abolished the state control of the Russian Orthodox Church instituted by Peter the Great and strove to introduce synodical governance in the Church, together with provisions taken from British practice. The consequence was a flexible system, combining overall episcopal control, with active participation by presbyters and elected lay people alike, a system which flourished for over thirty years and allowed the Diocese of Sourozh, as it then was under the inspiring leadership of the late Metropolitan Anthony, to play a role in British Church life out of all proportion to its numbers.
One noteworthy example of this was Andrew's active participation in the work of the British Council of Churches Commission on Trinitarian Doctrine, a proposal initiated by the late Metropolitan Anthony to celebrate the 1600th Anniversary of the Council of Constantinople in 381. It may illustrate how rapidly situations alter, even in seemingly changeless Orthodoxy, if we recall that John Zizioulas, then a layman and Professor at Glasgow, was initially nominated to the Commission not by the Greek but by the Russian Archdiocese! By the time the Commission had completed its work he had become Metropolitan of Pergamon and one of the chief spokesmen of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, not least on ecological issues.
The work of the BCC Commission on Trinitarian Doctrine was a triumph of living ecumenism. Andrew took an active part in the dialogue as Metropolitan John slowly but surely guided most of its Protestant participants to a positive appreciation of the Trinitarian teaching of the Eastern Christian tradition.
In the 1990s, together with the present writer, Andrew co-edited a book of essays under the title "Living Orthodoxy in the Living World". Neither of us was entirely satisfied with the resulting book, published by SPCK in 1996. The fact it was translated into and published in several other languages, however, demonstrated there was - and remains - a widespread need and demand for such work.
Andrew described himself as a ‘wayward son’. He remained always a person of unimpeachable integrity, extraordinary determination and total commitment to search for the truth, without a trace of hypocrisy. Not all ‘dutiful sons’ have achieved the same!