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Canon Keith Weston: 1926 - 2013 (1948, MML)

Canon Keith Weston, who has died aged 86, was an unusually gifted preacher, engaging blue-collar workers and university dons alike as rector from 1964 to 1985 of the medieval church of St Ebbe's in Oxford. The parish bordered university colleges to the north and east, while also housing some of the neediest families in the city, with a night shelter for the homeless. Weston saw his calling as pastor to all.

Keith Aitken Astley Weston was born on July 30 1926, the third son of Sir Arthur Astley Weston, Chief Legal Adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and educated at Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood.

At the age of 12, at a "Varsity and Public Schools" camp in Branscombe, Devon, Keith found the faith that would transform his life. These camps promoted the Christian faith and leadership skills, and influenced many who would become successful in the Church, the armed forces and the professions. Among them was the Rev John Stott, the rector of All Souls, Langham Place, and one of the most celebrated evangelicals in the Anglican Church; and it was in this tradition that Weston would find his voice.

From 1944 to 1948 Weston served as a captain in the Royal Artillery in Italy and Palestine, and on his return went up to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, to read French and German. He was active in the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (CICCU).

 

Having trained for the ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, Weston was ordained in Bath Abbey in 1953, when he was 27. After curacies at Weston-super-Mare and Cheltenham, he was appointed vicar of Christ Church, Clevedon, in 1959. From there he moved to Oxford.

Wherever he served, Weston offered careful and lively bible teaching, always applied to contemporary life. Over the years he was deeply involved in the work of the annual Keswick Bible Convention, which draws thousands to its summer gatherings in the Lake District; he was its chairman from 1994 to 1997, travelling to expound the Scriptures at sister conventions in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and Australia.

While he loved the inter-denominational work of Keswick and the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF), Weston remained committed to the Anglican Church, drawn to its pattern of ordered worship, liturgical richness, and its commitment to the public reading and teaching of Scripture. Although it was not commonplace in his day, he always welcomed people of any Christian denomination to receive Holy Communion, and appointed women to positions of leadership. He also encouraged students to consider many forms of lay ministry, as well as vocations to the ordained ministry.

Weston served as rural dean of Oxford from 1971 to 1976; as a canon of Christ Church Cathedral from 1981 to 1985; and, for 10 years in the Seventies and Eighties, as a member of the General Synod. He sat on the Synod's Dioceses Commission .

He became one of the best-loved speakers in university Christian Unions, travelling hundreds of miles to speak at campus meetings regardless of other pressures. He was a trustee of the UCCF, whose students elected him president in 1987-88.

In 1985 Weston was invited to become diocesan director of ordinands and post-ordination training for Norwich diocese, where he worked alongside his friends Maurice Wood, Bishop of Norwich, and Timothy Dudley-Smith, Bishop of Thetford. During this period he also served as vicar of St Stephen's, Norwich.

After retiring to Thame in 1991, Weston continued to preach, in St Mary's, Thame, in its surrounding parishes, and also abroad. This passion never abated, and after nearly 60 years of ministry he preached for the final time just four months before he died.

He is survived by his wife Margaret, whom he married in 1954, and by his two sons and two daughters.

Canon Keith Weston, born July 30 1926, died February 5 2013

Obituary from the Telegraph

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