Memo from WF Flemington
With the growing emphasis during recent years on the activities of World Methodism it is natural that the bonds uniting American and British Methodism should become closer. It was therefore significant when, about Christmas time 1958, Dr Watson received a unanimous invitation from Garrett Biblical Institute to become Professor of Systematic Theology. Garrett is one of the leading theological seminaries of American Methodism situated at Evanston, Illinois. After long and careful consideration, and consultation with those whose judgement counted for most, it seemed impossible that such an invitation could be set aside; this impression further agreed with our Tutor’s own growing sense of call to this work in America, a country and continent with which he already had several personal and family links. He therefore decided, with the full support of those whom he consulted, to seek the permission of Conference to serve in America, while retaining his ministerial status in this country. In bidding Godspeed to one who has been Tutor in Systematic and Pastoral Theology for the past four years it is fitting that we should place on record our deep appreciation of all that he has done for the college. As one of the leading British authorities on Martin Luther he has brought distinction to the college which he has served, and has shown those whom he has taught how to combine something of his own enthusiasm for the Reformation with loyalty to Methodism. His time at Wesley House will long be remembered with gratitude, and all connected with the college unite with others in wishing him and his family every blessing as they begin this new work in America. We shall also miss Mrs Watson, Joan and Peter; we shall think of them giving delight to friends in Evanston, as they have done here. It was a special pleasure to us all that on June 17th the University of Glasgow conferred upon our former Tutor the well-merited distinction of the honorary Doctorate of Divinity.
After careful consideration of the problem posed by Dr Watson’s departure, the unanimous decision of the Governors of Wesley House, and of the General Committee of the Ministerial Training Department, was to recommend that the Rev Michael J Skinner should be appointed to the vacant Tutorship; in July this received the unanimous approval of Conference. Educated at The Leys School (where his father was Chaplain for nearly thirty years, and he himself was Senior Prefect), Mr Skinner read the Historical Tripos at Jesus College, and later both parts of the Theological Tripos at Wesley House. His ministry has included a varied experience of circuit work, and also the unusually long period of six years as Assistant Tutor at Handsworth College, where under the searching scrutiny of the late Dr WF Howard his work at all times received the highest praise. For another six years he rendered notable service in the Durham Circuit, where he was Chaplain to Methodist undergraduates, a number of whom under his guidance offered for our ministry. More recently he has been Superintendent of the Filey Circuit and Chaplain to Hunmanby School. It is the considered judgement of those who know him best that by experience, gifts and personality Mr Skinner is the man best fitted, at the present juncture, for this Tutorship in Systematic and Pastoral Theology. He and his family have received a warm welcome; we believe that he will render a distinctive contribution to ministerial training at Wesley House.
We should also like to offer our good wishes to Dr John HS Kent, who has recently been appointed to the Chair of Church History at Hartley Victoria College. While Dr Kent’s chief commitment in Cambridge has been to Emmanuel College (where he was appointed to a College Lectureship four years ago) he has also been able to give valuable help at Wesley House in the supervision of Church History. We record with gratitude our appreciation of the efficient service he has given to the college.