Meet the writer: David Runcorn, New Daylight, 25 July - 7 August
David Runcorn has had a varied life and ministry as a Church of England minister. He has been a parish priest in London and a chaplain at the Lee Abbey holiday and conference centre in North Devon. Since then he has been involved in theological teaching and ministry training and support. This has long been at the heart of his calling. He has taught pastoral theology, evangelism, church history and spirituality at several theological colleges and continues to be involved in ministry training and support programs. He was also a Director of Ordinands and Warden of Readers in Gloucester Diocese. For some years he worked as a ‘free-range priest’ – conference speaking, teaching and training, retreat leading and involved with spiritual direction. He is the author of a number of books on faith, life and discipleship. You can find out more on his website davidruncorn.com
David describes himself as ‘a Christian disciple and priest long captivated by this profound, compelling and ancient faith that now urgently seeks new ways of being present to an exciting and restless culture, but one impulsively adrift from any spiritual roots and unable to recognize its perils …. An explorer, happiest living from the edge – mixing silence, reflection and contemplative prayer with the contexts described above.’ These are exciting but bewildering times, he writes: ‘Many of the familiar landmarks by which we navigate our paths through life are no longer there or have lost their meaning. Whole patterns of belonging and of knowing ourselves have changed. What kind of churches, communities or world will emerge from this is not clear. How individuals and communities live and pray faithfully through such times needs much wisdom. Theologically and practically, we will be exploring and experimenting for the foreseeable future.’
These days David is happily back in ‘free-range’ ministry (he used to keep chickens and they are his role models). He lives in Devon with Jackie, who is a bishop in the Diocese of Exeter. They have two grown up sons. He loves sport, photography, reading, cooking and travel.
We asked David about his latest series for New Daylight
What do you enjoy/value most about writing for New Daylight?
The tight word limit means you simply cannot go into any depth and analyse a text. But I find that freeing. I love circling around a passage or theme and listening to the story it tells. I find the Bible more often awakens faith rather than demands it, provokes questions rather than gives answers. Writing these notes leave me feeling I am on the threshold of rich mystery. There is meaning to seek and an invitation to go exploring more deeply. I find that wonderfully energising – and I hope others do.
What inspired your series on Growing Old?
Actually, I was asked to write on this topic and felt quite daunted at first. But it has left me inspired afresh by God’s loving and creative involvement in the whole of the life journey – the joys and pains, demands and gifts, mystery and vision. I was also inspired to value the rich gifts and wisdom of our later years – in a way that contemporary society and even church often neglects. There is something here that all of life needs to learn from.
What did you learn from writing it?
That ‘Growing’ is something that happens from our first breath to our last. I felt I was being constantly reminded that ‘Growing Old’ is not what happens to us at the far end of life. Each stage needs attentiveness, care and the willingness to explore and live it with everything we have. Every stage is valuable and precious to God.
What is the key thing you hope your readers might take away from the series?
Firstly, that these notes are not just for people society calls ‘old’ or in the later stages of life. Although some of these reflections focus particularly on the later stage of life, they are also relevant for everyone of whatever age. In fact, each stage of life draws on the riches and lessons of what has gone before and prepares us for what is to come, and each stage of life needs care and attentiveness. That is why in traditional cultures the wisdom of those in later years is so reverenced. They have so much life and living to draw wisdom from.