Despite wartime 1940’s turmoil, Mansfield had an illustrious cohort, with George Caird, Daniel Jenkins, Erik Routley and Geoffrey Beck amongst others as ordinands. Thanks to their teachers, Nathaniel Micklem and John Marsh, each became ecumenically committed as the world awaited the inauguration of the World Council of Churches that the Oxford Conference of 1937 had agreed to create. No surprise that as well as being Congregational Minister at Summertown, North Oxford, between 1950 and 1965, Beck worked with David Jenkins, then Chaplain at Queens and later Bishop of Durham, to pioneer a local ecumenical partnership in the new estate Blackbird Leys, established to help house the 25,000 workers at the Morris Car Factory in Cowley. Later Geoffrey would become, in 1965, the first Warden of the Chapel of Unity attached to the new Coventry Cathedral. It was at Coventry in 1967 that the Apostolic Delegate, the Pope’s official representative, was received in an Anglican Cathedral for the first time since the Reformation, no doubt due to some quiet backroom work in the ecumenical tradition of Mansfield.

Ordinands of a later generation like Tony Tucker and Donald Norwood benefitted from Geoffrey’s frequent visits to and support for Mansfield. In his final years it was he who helped pioneer the Adam von Trott Scholarships and Lectures and was honoured by the German Embassy for doing so.

Folk at Summertown still treasure his capacity for friendship, remember his lovely wife Joy and their family of four that made it such a welcoming family church. We all miss him dearly. 

Donald Norwood with Tony Tucker