By popular democratic consensus (which some may term ‘populism’) Daniel McArthur has been chosen as the most inspirational Christian of 2016. The swell of nominations received for him eclipsed those of the Queen, bishops, archbishops, missionaries, church pastors and Aunty Tammy Cobley and all. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s a baker. Or, rather, he’s the general manager of a bakery in Belfast (and branches roundabouts).
And it’s all about cake.
Perhaps not since King Alfred burned a batch somewhere in Somerset, or Queen Marie-Antoinette exhorted starving peasants to partake of brioche instead of bread, has a cake been so (in)famous. And this was a gay cake. No, not a pansexual gateau with exotic hormonal inclinations, but an iced Ulster cake advocating same-sex marriage.
A (gay) guy walks into a (Christian) bakers and asks for a cake. No problem – of course they’ll serve him; they’re not the sort to alienate and discriminate on the grounds of sexuality. But then the (gay) guy asks for a political slogan to be iced on the cake – one that offends against the McArthurs’ Christian conscience, not least because it advocates a change in the law. Baking is their worship: every cake Ashers Bakery makes is crafted to the glory of God. They could no more make a cake for a gay guy exhorting same-sex marriage than they could make a cake for a straight guy declaring Jesus to be a myth or God to be the Devil. All that they do and all that they create is to bring honour to Christ. But that’s not how the Northern Ireland Equality Commission saw it, and so the case went to court, and the judges took a a different view: the McArthurs were found guilty of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, and Daniel McArthur was unwillingly thrust into the media spotlight.
It needs to be noted that some nominations came in for ‘Daniel and Amy McArthur’, and still others were for the whole ‘McArthur family’, since Ashers Baking Company is a family affair. And Daniel McArthur would undoubtedly be content to share this honour, for his spirit manifestly inclines toward truth, honour, humility and generosity. But it is Daniel McArthur who has been at the forefront of this (ongoing) saga, and it is Daniel McArthur who has responded so graciously, humbly and often tearfully to the world’s media. His witness has evidently touched thousands. The citations were effusive:
For standing up for their beliefs, and continuing to do so amid a storm of hate directed against them, even though they were within their rights to refuse the gay marriage cake as gay marriage was at that time illegal.
For providing the western world with a true example of how Christians should respond to political persecution.
For firm and dignified defence of Christian morality in resisting orders to endorse or conform to the immoral fashions of the day, at great personal cost, and in the face of a near universal disdain in the media and political sphere.
For displaying consistent measured restraint in the face of all manner of provocation over the ‘gay cake’ case, and an eloquent bold response when his appeal was turned down.
His resolute faith in most trying circumstances has inspired so many people not just in the UK but across the world.
For his stalwart defence of religious liberty and freedom of conscience.
..thrust into the spotlight because he refused to bake a cake carrying a message which would have dishonoured God and violated his conscience.
For his bold and humble stand under relentless media and legal pressure.
The entire way he (and his family) have conducted themselves during the court case and his speech after the last verdict.
It is very crazy times when I consider the person to have defended Christian beliefs with the most guts and indifference to the hatred and opposition coming his way, is an Ulster biblical protestant!
To be chosen as the most inspirational British Christian of 2016 is not an invitation to pride or an invocation of vanity. Nor is it a denigration of the efforts of other Christians who contend for the Faith in a harsh and unforgiving world. This award is manifestly bestowed in appreciation of Daniel McArthur’s faithfulness to orthodox Christian morality and obedience to his conscience in the face of equality tyranny.
The other 99 winners are presented below. The spiritual variety and theological breadth of nominees reflects, once again, the ecclesial catholicity and theological breadth of this blog’s readership. The winners’ placement in any missional/ministry ranking must ultimately be left to the perfect judgment of God, for we cannot know hearts or judge motives. In the meantime, they are ordered by the cosmic lottery of patronymic designation (ie alphabetically), for children tend to be first in the kingdom of God (Mt 18): of the adults, the second shall be 98th and the 78th fourth.
It must be stressed (again) that the following people are recognised and honoured not because they are in any sense greater in the kingdom of heaven or more loved by Jesus (cf Jn 13:23), but because they are considered to have inspired people over the past year by their ministry, mission or Christian witness. They were inspirational to one person or to a thousand: you cannot know, and that’s the point. They are listed without quantifiable comparatives. The #CranmerList2016 does not constitute a lofty religio-political endorsement, but rather demotic appreciation of the scale and (often unseen and unknown) impact of their labours in the Vineyard of the Lord, where the big toe is as crucial as the eye.
If your considered worthies are not named, it may because you didn’t nominate them. If you are irked that you yourself do not feature, meditate on Luke 15:25ff. If you are relieved that you have not been honoured, you have the luxury of hiding your Christian witness under a bushel and being free to condemn the whole concept over the coming weeks, and thereby move yourself into the frame for nomination in 2017.
The 99 British Christians who came second (or 99th) to Daniel McArthur are:
Bishop Angaelos OBE. General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK. His passion for Jesus radiates from every utterance he makes. Nominated for: “his commitment to religious freedom in Egypt and throughout the Middle East, and for his work in reconciliation and interfaith dialogue”; “To understand Bishop Angaelos is to feel the heart of Copts – he incarnates the peace of Christ.”
Rev’d Andrew Ashdown. Anglican priest, blogger and author of ‘The Stones Cry Out: Reflections from Israel and Palestine’. An expert on Middle East affairs and Christian-Muslim interfaith relations. Nominated for: “his profound Christian knowledge and witness.. and part in the exposing of the truth of what is going on in Syria, contra what the MSM pumps out.”
Rev’d Canon Dr Gavin Ashenden. Anglican priest and Chaplain to the Queen; author, theologian and blogger. There are few who grasp the spiritual significance of current events. Nominated for: “his common sense approach to what’s happening in the CofE and his educated and intelligent articles that speak out and question the insanity of destroying traditional Christian culture.”
Rt Rev’d Nick Baines. Bishop of Leeds; broadcaster, prolific author and blogger. He is a regular on BBC Radio 4’s Thought For The Day, often tackling some of the most important issues of politics, culture, identity and the Church of England. Nominated for: “(his) effective presence in the mainstream media is captivating and challenging, but always gentle and Christ-like.”
Steve Baker MP. Conservative MP for Wycombe, and founder of the Cobden Centre. In 2015 he co-founded Conservatives for Britain, a campaign group which led calls for the UK to leave the EU. Nominated for: “his Christian vision, political conviction, integrity, honesty and sincerity”. Pivotal in Vote Leave; credited with a lot of the backroom Brexit work.
Rev’d Dan Stork Banks. Anglican curate in Shropshire and YouTuber with the award-winning TGI-Monday show. Nominated for: “fearlessly giving voice to a Christian perspective for Brexit despite significant pressure to conform to ecclesial norms”; “his spiritual creativity and passion for Reformed theology are a rare combination. He is an asset to the church”.
Baroness (Elizabeth) Berridge. Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief. Nominated for: “standing up for Christian liberties and promoting religious freedom in Commonwealth countries”; “opposing fear and hatred for people of all faiths and none.”
Mary Berry CBE. Food writer and television presenter; most recently a judge on ‘The Great British Bake Off’. Patron of Child Bereavement UK. Nominated for: “Very well presented programmes on the Easter message ‘Mary Berry’s Easter Feast‘, including a very moving episode on how her own faith helped her to deal with the tragic loss of her son in a car crash at the age of 19.”
Fr Raymond Blake. Priest at St Mary Magdalen’s Church in Brighton, and blogger. Often controversial, especially in his robust criticism of Pope Francis, who both perplexes and confuses him. He hasn’t had an easy year (heart failure), but his social media presence was a constant challenge to others throughout his trials. Nominated for: “his wise and authentically Catholic witness.”
Roger Bolton. Currently a radio presenter for BBC and Premier Radio, but a lifetime dedicated to broadcasting behind the scenes. Accused the Times of withdrawal from coverage of religion ; and the BBC of failing to take faith seriously and not appreciating the Christian contribution to culture. Nominated for: “advocating wider religious literacy in the media.”
Rev’d Kate Botley. Vicar of the churches of Blyth, Scrooby and Ranskill in the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham, and chaplain to North Notts College. She is better known as the Vicar on ‘Gogglebox‘. Nominated for: “a God-given gift of the gab which makes the Church of England look and sound down-to-earth, meeting people where they’re at, slouching on the sofa with a mug of tea.”
Rev’d Gary Bradley. Vicar of the United Benefice of Little Venice and Chaplain to the Lord Mayor of Westminster. Better known for being the vicar exchanging gifts with an imam on this year’s Amazon Christmas advertisement. Nominated for: “(doing) more for perceptions of Christian-Muslim relations than all the interfaith conferences of the past year combined”.
Fiona Bruce MP. Conservative MP for Congleton. Appearing for the third year running. Nominated for: “the brave stand she made for Christians and freedom of religion in PMQs on Wed 30th November 2016“; “In a relatively understated way she has used her position in parliament to always defend important Christian issues, especially anti-abortion.”
Joshua Buatsi. Olympic Bronze medallist in light-heavyweight boxer who talked about his faith effusively after winning, saying he was “working hard for God“. His Twitter declares: “It is God who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.” Nominated for: “(being) unashamed to talk about God and the Bible as the source of his inspiration and motivation.”
David Burrowes MP. Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate. He continues to speak out on matters of social justice, homelessness and poverty. He also made a cogent Christian case for Brexit. Nominated for: “his integrity and faithfulness shine in some of the darkest debates in Parliament – he is an inspiration and encouragement to so many in his quiet service for God.”
Lord (George) Carey. Former Archbishop of Canterbury, and one of the few senior clergy to support Brexit – “It is the refrain of freedom,” he wrote in the Daily Mail. He upholds orthodox Christian sexual morality, for which his picture was recently removed from the ‘wall of distinguished alumni‘ at King’s College London. Nominated for: “he stands up for the truth.”
Chris Cartwright. Coming in as Elim’s new General Superintendent, there is a lot of expectation as he leads 550+ church fellowships throughout the country. Nominated for: “his humility and respect for the past achievements and advances of the denomination while renewing a fresh Pentecostal edge to the ministry.”
Rt Rev’d Richard Chartres KCVO. Soon-to-retire Bishop of London has had an immense impact on so much of the Church of England and upon so many people that it’s easy to overlook his contribution to human flourishing and Christian fellowship. Nominated for: “confronting the Government about its ‘ideological.. Big Brother‘ drive to inculcate ‘British values’ in schools.”
Adrian Chiles. Journalist, broadcaster and prominent Roman Catholic. The first person to be nominated to this year’s Cranmer List (last January!) because of his tour of the Mediterranean. Nominated for: “speaking out forcefully in defence of a fair and truthful representation of religion in the media.”
Martha Collison. The ‘Great British Bake Off’ contestant is a prominent ambassador for Tearfund and charity pioneer. Bramber Bakehouse aims to give exploited women a second chance by providing internships, training and support, based on Christian values shared through baking. Nominated for: “being a great role model for young Christian women in the media.”
Baroness (Caroline) Cox. Crossbench Peer and founder of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust. At the age of 79, she is one of the most hard-working peers, consistently opposing the injustice of sharia courts. This year she narrowly escaped ambush by Islamist gunmen while on a humanitarian visit to Nigeria. Nominated for: “her integrity and faithfulness to the mission of Christ.”
Ruth Davidson MSP Leader of the Scottish Conservatives and member of the Church of Scotland. Winner of Politician of the Year, she is open about her faith and the tensions it presents for her personally and professionally. Nominated for: “being genuine, authentic and refreshingly honest and open.. a role model for gay Christians.”
Rt Rev’d Mark Davies. Roman Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury; robust and compassionate in his response to educationalists on the pervasive “ideology of gender“. Nominated for: “(being) one of the few Catholic bishops who actually gives the impression that he takes Christ’s teaching seriously. Very strong on pro-life issues, for example.”
Sr Frances Dominica. After years of service to God, Sr Frances Dominica was accused of child abuse, never brought to trial, and exists in limbo courtesy of Anglican injustice. Nominated for: “her steadfast faith when faced with unfounded accusations”; “her integrity and sterling work in the hospice movement”; “Sister Frances is a ‘saint’ for the twenty-first century.”
Rt Rev’d Woyin Karowei Dorgu. Newly appointed Bishop of Woolwich – the first black bishop in the Church of England for 20 years (and the first ever from Nigeria), whose appointment has been greeted enthusiastically. Nominated for: “his Evangelical faith (which) shines out of him.. happy to celebrate diversity while upholding the Church’s teaching on human sexuality.”
Frank Field MP. Labour MP for Birkenhead. Regularly advocates, writes and blogs about matters relating to poverty, health, injustice and the challenge of Ukip. Nominated for: “(being) one of the most lucid voices on the left for Brexit”; “(his) compassion and level-headed solutions for poverty are profoundly Christian.. cares more about the poor than his ego, career or party.”
Duncan Forbes. Pastor of the New Life Church in Roehampton; committed to ‘Council Estate Christianity‘, despite suffering from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which means his joints dislocate frequently causing pain, fatigue and loss of mobility. Nominated for: “encouraging others to serve on council estates.. reaching the unreached.. a godly example of service in spite of suffering.”
Claudia Fragapane. Olympian gymnast and ‘Strictly Come Dancing‘ semi-finalist. Former student of St Bernadette Catholic Secondary School, her social media presence frequently bears testimony to the vibrancy of her faith, about which she is certainly not ashamed. Nominated for: “(being) talented but modest with it.. an inspirational role model for young people.”
Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser. Vicar of St Mary’s, Newington; Guardian columnist, BBC ‘Moral Maze’ pannelist. As co-Chairman of ‘Christians for Britain’, one of the few Labour supporters to back #Brexit, for which he paid a price, even being called “racist” by the Dean of Manchester. Nominated for: “standing up for what he believes in and continuing to be a thorn in the side of the establishment.”
Michael Gove MP. Conservative MP for Surrey Heath; Times columnist. Co-led the Vote Leave campaign, and was instrumental in providing the intellectual framework. A Presbyterian, he often talks and writes about how Christianity informs his politics. Nominated for: “his grasp of the foundations of Christian civilisation.. the buttress of the Established Church.”
Rev’d Jim Graham. Baptist pastor who died this year. It wasn’t his passing which made him inspirational, but it reminded many thousands that their lives, faith and ministries had been profoundly touched by a life lived to the glory of God. Nominated for: “knowing Christ and him crucified and making that the single priority of his life; “loving and serving God and his people.”
Pete Greig. Founder of 24-7 Prayer – a movement of prayer, mission and justice. Involved with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Thy Kingdom Come initiative. Nominated for: “leading people in honouring one another during the referendum and US elections, and focusing on the upward call of Christ in witnessing.”
Bear Grylls. Adventurer, writer and television presenter who has been the public face of the Alpha course this year, describing his Christian faith as his “greatest adventure”. Nominated for: “encouraging others to share his faith in such a natural and unpretentious way.”; “(being) a fantastic Christian role model, especially to young people and men.”
Rev’d Nicky Gumbel. Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton; developer of the Alpha Course. Nominated for: “his inspirational use of social media for telling the world the Good News about Jesus”; “he has enabled millions of people round the world to come to faith in Christ Jesus”; “loving the whole church enough to make sure it gets the inspired and equipped leaders it needs.”
Lizzie Hamilton. 103 year old member of Old Cumnock Old Church in East Ayrshire. She has attended this church for the last 100 years and was presented with a special award for services to the Church of Scotland by the Moderator of the General Assembly. Nominated for: “a lifetime of faithful commitment to her church and local community and blessing so many others along the way.”
Rev’d Paul Harcourt. Vicar of All Saints Woodford Wells; head of the New Wine Network of churches which seek spiritual renewal of the Church. The New Wine festival attracts in excess of 30,000. Nominated for: “his passion to see the Church changing this country through the power of the Holy Spirit.. his church’s ministry working with special needs children.”
Isabel Hardman. Political journalist and the assistant editor of The Spectator. She keeps the magazine and ‘Coffee House’ blog grounded in sober and honest Christian reflection. She hasn’t had an easy year, but even Black Dog can work together for good to those who love God. Nominated for: “talking honestly about her mental health experiences in such a positive and uplifting way.”
Jonathan Hellewell LVO. Former Private Secretary to the Prince of Wales (discreetly nudging necessary attention toward persecuted Christians in the Middle East), he was recently appointed special advisor the Pime Minister on religion. Nominated for: “(being) one of the few religiously literate people at the heart of political power.. astute.. effective, and a really nice guy.”
Peter Hitchens. Columnist for the Mail on Sunday and blogger for Mail Online. There are many who appreciate his inexorable quest for justice for Bishop George Bell. Nominated for: “his continued lonely defence of traditional Christian values while the world collapses around him”; “a great advocate of the Christian faith and traditional Anglicanism.”
Aisling Hubert. Pro-life campaigner who came to prominence when she tried to prosecute doctors advocating gendercide abortions. Nominated for: “courage in bringing a private prosecution against doctors for aborting babies solely on grounds of their gender.. (and) bold and gracious way she has responded to the media following the collapse of the case.”
Rev’d Rose Hudson-Wilkin. Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. Nominated for: “(being) unfailingly kind, generous, and inspirational to those she works alongside”; “the strong continued leadership and pastoral support to the House, particularly during the turbulent climate of the referendum, which saw the life of a beloved MP maliciously taken.. a fabulous priest.”
Pastor Agu Irukwu. Senior Pastor of Jesus House, where “people come first” and lives are changed for God’s glory. Nominated for: “..if you’re ever feeling down or your faith is a bit jaded or your vision of God too small, just dip into Agu’s Twitter feed and you’ll be refreshed and renewed with prayer, praise and an infectious love of Jesus.. ‘You cannot serve God without passion’.”
Rev’d Canon J.John. Evangelist, minister, speaker, social activist and writer, just loves telling people about Jesus. Nominated for: “(being) one of the most gifted communicators in the Church.. he makes Jesus live”; “stepping out in faith for his plans to hold a massive evangelistic meeting at the Emirates Stadium in London.”
Alex Johnstone MSP. Conservative member of the Scottish Parliament who died this year. Alongside his role as a politician he was a Church of Scotland elder. Greatly respected for his integrity and generosity. Nominated for: “(being) a man of Christian principle who passionately fought for what he believed in including his strong opposition to assisted suicide legislation.”
Dr Krish Kandiah. Founder of Home for Good – a charity to help inspire the Church to engage in foster care and adoption; writer and speaker. Nominated for: (his0 inspirational leadership of Home For Good charity and advocate for unaccompanied asylum seekers. An example of someone who lives to be more like Jesus every day.”
Rev’d Cindy Kent MBE. Presenter for Premier Christian Radio, appointed MBE this year for services to religious broadcasting. She is now semi-retired, but continues to live an extraordinary life. Nominated for: “(being) such an enthusiastic, energetic, passionate and fun vicar – a bit wicked too! ..the church badly needs more of her infectious faith and Christian warmth.”
John Kirkby. Founder of Christians Against Poverty; commended by the Prime Minister. Working with local churches CAP helps 29,000 people a year overcome debt, addiction and unemployment. Nominated for: “Visionary leadership of a charity that rescues thousands from lives of debt and misery whilst not being afraid to offer them the gift of a relationship with Jesus too.”
Sister Sarah Kuteh. Nurse for 15 years at the Darent Valley Hospital in Darford, Kent, who was sacked for offering to pray with patients. Nominated for: “persecution starts in small things and gets bigger – Sr Sarah Kuteh is a victim of the secular inquisition and her explanation to Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on ‘This Morning’ was humble and gracious.”
Neville Kyrke-Smith. Director of Aid to the Church in Need, raising awareness of the plight of persecuted Christians all over the world. Instigator of the Red Wednesday campaign; responsible for securing the support of the Prince of Wales for the cause of religious liberty. Nominated for: “He can raise get a million pounds aid for Syria back up by a million prayers for the suffering.”
Andrea Leadsom MP. Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire. Nominated for: “maintaining a clear Christian witness during a year in which she has been instrumental in securing the vote to leave the EU”; “..displaying great humility and loyalty to her party and country by choosing to stand aside rather than force a head-to-head battle with Theresa May.”
Sir James MacMillan CBE. Classical composer and conductor. Styled a “holy warrior with a baton“; an artistic prophet of Catholic culture with a vision for true liturgical greatness. Nominated for: “his contribution to sacred music, in particular his incredible Stabat Mater that premiered this year, as well as his writings and broadcasts on the sacred in modern music.”
Tanya Marlow. Writer, author, campaigner and broadcaster. She explores that difficult and often dark place between Christian spirituality and suffering, writing regularly on matters of social justice, illness and chronic incapacity. Nominated for: “(being) a compassionate Christian voice through social media, especially on the issue of suffering and disability”;
Rev’d Bob Marshall. Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Chapel in Buckey, North Wales. Well-known locally for putting up a different ‘eye-catching’ sign outside his church every week – some a little more risqué than others. Nominated for: “simple communication innovations which make national headlines.”
Theresa May MP. Conservative MP for Maidenhead became Prime Minister this year, with a robust profession of her Anglican faith. Nominated for: “(being) upfront about how her Christian faith informs her policy”; “serv(ing) the people of Maidenhead with humility – how many MPs (let alone PMs!) give up Christmas Day to serve the lonely and elderly?”
Mez McConnell. Senior Pastor of Niddrie Community Church, Edinburgh and founder of 20schemes, bringing the gospel to Scotland’s poorest. He is now working to encourage others to do the same around the world. Nominated for: “In an era where the forgotten men and women are those from the working class communities, Mez is raising the profile of ministry among the forgotten.”
Rt Rev’d Harold Miller. Bishop of Down and Dromore, known for his Evangelical leadership. Nominated for: “(doing) great work ecumenically and with great humility”; “Very good Bishop in love with Jesus defending the faith”; “faithfully taught the scriptures and lead the church through dark days and has been a staunch advocate for traditional marriage.”
Sally Milner. Chaplain of the Northumberland Church of England Academy, the largest CofE academy of the UK. Nominated for: “her support of students is outstanding and the energy with which she looks after the Christian formation of nearly 2,500 children is to be coveted.. Her loving witness to Jesus Christ has touched and shaped the lives of thousands of students.”
Rt Rev’d James Newcome. Bishop of Carlisle and lead bishop on healthcare matters. He writes on dementia and faith, and was co-founder of Caring for Carers, which attracted publicity this year. Nominated for: “(being) a compassionate, caring visionary and understanding that small acts of compassion by individual Christians are the best way for the Church to show love.”
Fr Aidan Nichols OP. Academic theologian and priest. Nominated for: “Stout defence of Christian culture (e.g. his book The Realm)”; “stubborn defence of truth through a long period when his religious order succumbed to radicals fads; respected theologian with understanding of the traditions of East & West; eloquent preacher.”
Rt Rev’d Philip North. Bishop of Burnley, passionate about matters of social justice. Nominated for: “constantly reminding a self-satisfied and middle-class church that her primary mission is to the poor, whether they happen to hold the same political views as you or not”; “an energetic ministry to the those places where the church’s money rarely reaches.”
Christine Ohuruogu MBE. Bronze medallist in the women’s 4x400m at the Rio Olympics. One of Britain’s most successful athletes who is very happy to talk about her faith in public. Nominated for: “(being) a role model to many sportswomen and making her Christian faith be a natural part of everything she does.”
Elizabeth Oldfield. Director of the Christian think-tank, Theos, which has produced important reports and research on the relationship between Christianity and society during the year. She regularly makes appearances in the media including Radio 4’s Thought for the Day. Nominated for: “(being) a thoughtful, winsome and spiritual voice in the media.”
Frog Orr-Ewing. Rector of Latimer Minster and Chaplain of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. Nominated for: “his profound approach, soft heart, local passion and national vision are unlike any minister I’ve been around”; “developing an approach to apologetics which is as credible to the mind as to the heart.. seeing people in their hundreds coming to Christ during 2016.”
Amy Orr-Ewing. Theologian and author, known for exposition of Christian apologetics. European Director for RZIM Zacharias Trust, and Director of Programmes for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. Nominated for: (being) one of the best apologists for the Christian faith”; “brilliant speaker.. integral to the success of the Reboot Youth Apologetics conference.”
David Oyelowo. Actor. Starred in a number of films this year including United Kingdom and Queen of Katwe in which he plays a Christian missionary. A vocal Christian from within the film industry. Nominated for: ‘(being) a first class actor who stays true to his faith in an environment where having strong Christian beliefs is not easy.”
Rev’d Dr Ian Paul. Theologian, speaker and blogger at Psephizo; member of the Archbishop’s Council. Nominated for: “maintaining an insightful and topical blog which.. at this crucial time in the Church’s engagement with issues of human sexuality has consistently ensured that the orthodox view is respectfully and persuasively presented and defended.”
Rev’d Dr Emma Percy. Chaplain of Trinity College, Oxford; appointed this year Director of WATCH. There are few who can pastor undergraduates with endless tea, look after their welfare, write and speak about matters of theology and gender, all while caring for a dying brother with late-stage cancer. Nominated for: “(being) an inspirational warrior for diverse church leadership.”
Very Rev’d Prof Martyn Percy. Dean of Christ Church College, Oxford. Warned this year about the Church of England becoming a “suburban sect“, and wrote The Future Shapes of Anglicanism, as well as engaging in dialogue about Reform & Renewal. Nominated for: “uncomfortable truths, prophetic probings.. everything a bishop should be saying.”
Sally Phillips. Award-winning actress and vocal Christian. Nominated for: “her advocacy on behalf of people with Down’s Syndrome“; “swimming against the current of the pernicious eugenics movement and for making a lot of people who deserve to be uncomfortable very much so”; “her powerful tear-jerker of a documentary that unusually and bravely transgressed the secular consensus.”
Rev’d Mike Pilavachi. Leader of Soul Survivor which attracts 26,000 young people to its festivals, of which 1,500 became new Christians this year. Nominated for: “encouraging thousands of young Christians to take their faith seriously and live it out daily”; “Having led Soul Survivor for 23 years he still finds the energy and enthusiasm to see the church filled with young people.”
Her Majesty The Queen. Now England’s (and the UK’s) oldest monarch, adding to the longest-reigning achieved last year. Nominated for: “(being) the single constant in a fast-drying river of fetid politics. Her Majesty has stood out as the anchor for our Christian constitution while the tides of uncertainty have pulled at the creaking timbers during the upheavals of a stormy year.”
Matt Redman. One of the most influential and respected Christian song writers. Received the Cranmer award for worship this year from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Nominated for: “continually producing worship songs full of truth and passion that draw those who sing them into a deeper relationship with God”; “Matt’s heart overflows with worship.”
Marvin Rees. Elected Mayor of Bristol in May. Member of Christians on the Left who has encouraged churches in his city to engage more effectively with politics. Nominated for: “his faith is at the heart of all he does. He has shown how Christians can make an incredibly positive impact in public life.”
Sir Cliff Richard OBE. With a career going back to 1958, one of the most famous Christians on the planet. Nominated for: “fighting the BBC for justice”; “vindicated but not limply turning the other cheek”; “a lifetime of service to the music industry whilst maintaining a form faith”; “His continued devotion to Christ and lack of apology for it despite constant jeering.”
Rev’d David Robertson. Minister of St Peter’s Free Church in Dundee; Director of Solas Centre for Public Christianity, writer and influential blogger at The Wee Flea. Nominated for: “constantly taking on secular humanism in Scotland”; “passionately defending Christian morality and biblical Christianity”; ” fearless yet gracious advocate of Biblical Christianity.”
Dr Helen Roseveare. WEC missionary to the Congo who died this year at the age of 91. In a lifetime of humble service for Jesus, she was arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and raped. “Through the brutal heart-breaking experience of rape, God met with me — with outstretched arms of love,” she wrote. Nominated for: “(being) a true hero of the faith.”
Rt Rev’d Mark Rylands. Bishop of Shrewsbury, who was much derided for supporting Brexit. His grasp of EU political injustice and euro economic oppression was profoundly encouraging to the millions who feel alienated from the pathologically pro-EU Church of England leadership. Nominated for: “the courageous admission that he is a well-considered Brexiteer.”
Very Rev’d Michael Sadgrove. Dean Emeritus of Durham; architect and leader of the pro-EU ‘Remain’ group Christians for Europe. Nominated for: “us(ing) his blog, Facebook page and Twitter to present a picture of all that I most admire in the Church of England: wise, temperate, and combining inspiration from the divine with a unique understanding of the human heart.”
Rev’d Glen Scrivener. Church of England minister and evangelist who uses social media and YouTube videos to promote the Christian message. 2016 Jerusalem Award winner. His Christmas YouTube video received 118,000 views in three weeks. Nominated for: “continuing to use digital media in very clever and imaginative ways to promote the gospel in a clear and compelling way.”
Rt Rev’d Alan Smith. Bishop of St Alban’s. Led the Church of England’s response to Sunday trading proposals. Nominated for: “His willingness to speak up for rural communities on issues such as affordable housing and bus services… for speaking out against cuts to disability benefit, and for tabling legislation to tackle the scourge of fixed-odds-betting-terminals.”
Mike Smith MBE. Founder of Word 4 Weapons, which has become the UK’s Leading Weapons Surrender Initiative. He received an MBE this year for his work, which has resulted in 24,000 weapons being handed in. Nominated for: “(being) a visionary who has heard a call from God and put it into practice in a simple yet effective way that is saving lives.”
Dr Tim Stanley. Historian, blogger and Telegraph columnist, who has migrated from the Baptist Church, through Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism. His Twitter offers a stream of political insight and spiritual wisdom. He appears regularly on television and writes on American culture, the persecuted church and the future of British Christianity. Nominated for: “It’s Tim Stanley!”
Dr Elaine Storkey. Writer, broadcaster, speaker and theologian. Leads the ‘Developing a Christian Mind’ initiative at Oxford University, and author of many books, most recently Scars Across Humanity. Nominated for: “(her) breadth of experience and painstaking research make her a force for justice in the world.. (in particular) in the global fight against violence against women.”
Gisela Stuart MP. Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston. As Chair of the Vote Leave campaign she was instrumental in securing Brexit, and was forthright in her opposition to the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in the UK. Nominated for: “putting country before party.. being prepared to work with obnoxious Tories to secure sovereignty and liberty.”
Daniel Sturridge. Liverpool and England footballer. Regularly enjoys thanking God publicly. His faith often makes the news. Nominated for: “talking about God almost as much as he scores goals. Proof that being openly Christian is compatible with being a professional sportsman.”
Miriam Swaffield. Student Mission Leader at Fusion, a national organisation that aims to support students in a life of discipleship and mission at university. Nominated for: “(being) an inspiration to young people. She has an unquenchable passion for evangelism and social justice and is a gifted preacher and teacher”; “whenever she speaks it is with humour, compassion and authenticity.”
Rt Rev’d Mark Tanner. Newly appointed Bishop of Berwick. Nominated for: “(his) time as Warden of Cranmer Hall has been influential in influencing and supporting many ordinands as they prepare for ministry. His love for Jesus is tangible, and infectious!”
Mervyn Thomas.Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, highlighting the global persecution of Christians. Nominated for: “putting Christian identity, values and prayer at the heart of the mission to transform darkness to light and pain to joy”; “a true defender of true freedom of religion”; “highlighting every day our suffering brothers and sisters all over the world.”
Stephen Timms MP. Labour MP for East Ham, and prominent member of Christians on the Left. Nominated for: “continu(ing) to play a prominent role as an MP encouraging the public sector to work with Christian organisations”.
Rt Rev’d Rachel Treweek. Bishop of Gloucester. Nominated for: “Her engagement with young people in the diocese around self-confidence and ‘image’ issues”; “Timely and relevant interventions that bring issues of faith and identity together in the classroom”; “work(ing) hard to accommodate those with differing views on ordination of women.. committed to mutual flourishing.”
Charles, Prince of Wales. Spoke out forcefully this year about the “unbearable misery” of Christians suffering in Syria, and the rise of religious persecution. Nominated for: “Speaking up for persecuted Christians and defending religious liberty.” As Tim Stanley observes (and many are beginning to believe), “The Crown will be safe with him.”
Dan Walker. Journalist and television presenter; host of ‘BBC Breakfast’. Nominated for: “standing in grace during his accession to the BBC Breakfast sofa in the midst of fierce attack simply for being a Christian and labelled a ‘creationist'”; “standing for his Faith in an increasingly secular institution”; “A gracious and godly example to all Christians in the public eye.”
Rt Rev’d Glyn Webster. Bishop of Beverley. Nominated for: “His commitment to mission and his personal engagement in it.. has been truly inspiring: he is a pastor who leads by example.. He has immersed himself in the life of the persecuted, suffering with people and giving all he has. He has done this without complaint, political agenda, without spite and in a spirit of love.”
Most Rev’d Justin Welby. Archbishop of Canterbury. Nominated for: “providing a hopeful and positive presence, encouraging Christians in UK with fearless and pragmatic tackling of issues, showing leadership and courage”; “For the way he heads up the Church of England with such wisdom and humility at the same time standing strong in the faith.”
Sheridan Westlake OBE. Former special advisor to Sir Eric Pickles, now at No10, he is one of the most talented and respected backroom boys in Torydom. He occasionally makes it onto a list of recognition, but is far happier nudging (prime) ministers toward Christian principles. Nominated for: “having words in the right ears about the UK’s Christian heritage.”
Canon Andrew White. The ‘Vicar of Baghdad‘. It’s been an odd year for the 2014 winner of this award (more explanation HERE); not to say a profoundly challenging one as his health deteriorates and he finds himself pleading for funds via Facebook. Nominated for: “(being) a great man of God who has sacrificed everything for his flock and his faith. No more needs to be said.”
Ann Widdecombe. Former MP and now author and charity worker. Became President of ‘Christians for Britain’ this year, teaming up with Giles Fraser to lead the debate against prominent ‘Remain’ Christians. Nominated for: “putting her faith before politics and her Christian convictions before gongs and career.”
Andrea Williams. CEO of Christian Concern, seeking remedy for some of the more concerning injustices against Christians in the UK. Nominated for: “fight(ing) gallantly to ensure that the Christian voice for justice and fairness is reflected in UK law”; “stoutly defends Christians that are being persecuted simply for wanting to live their lives reflecting Christian truth.”
Sr Catherine Wybourne. Benedictine nun (aka @Digitalnun) who blogs at the incredibly popular iBenedictines. Daily prays for her Twitter followers, and infuses the often rancid Twittersphere with the grace and peace of Christ (even as she battles her own chronic health problems). Nominated for: “(being) a living example of how to pray”; “she is so wise and humble with a great sense of humour. She brings so much light into a dark world.”