On 8 March the Church commemorated one of my heroes – Edward King of Lincoln. Edward King was born in 1829. Although a frail child, he grew up strong in mind and spirit. He was ordained, and at the age of only 34 was appointed Principal of Cuddesdon, the college where I was trained for ministry.
Edward King exercised an enormous influence on his students through a mixture of friendship, humour and common sense. When one of his students was over-zealous in fasting, Edward King wrote him a note saying Dearest man, eat some breakfast and come down to the level of yours truly E.K. He was always concerned as much for people’s feelings as for their high-minded thoughts.
Some years later he was invited to become Bishop of Lincoln – an appointment he only accepted with great reluctance. He wrote to a friend that he hoped to be a big curate in the Diocese of Lincoln. Life in the diocese was at low ebb. He travelled all over the diocese by train to places, which hadn’t seen a bishop for years. As an environmentalist I like the thought of a bishop always travelling by train. He is remembered for saying If it should please God to let me be the bishop of the poor and enable me to help them see more clearly what they are to him, and he to them, I think I should be happy.
This good, kind and gentle man was far ahead of his time in his exercise of leadership. We must learn to work with our people rather than for them, he said. He moved from a grand house in the country to live in the middle of the city so that the curates wouldn’t have to pay for a cab to come and see him.