An Interview with Harvey Richardson

by Gordon Nary



Gordon: Where did you attend university and what was your major?


Harvey: I gained a BA degree in Theology at Birmingham University in 1974 while training for Ordination at The Queens College, Birmingham. I also gained an MA in Music & Aesthetics (as a part-time student) at Sussex University in 1997.


Gordon: What was your first job and share with our readers some of your experiences there?


Harvey: I have worked as a Bank Officer in Brighton, Sussex and as a Library Assistant, before training for Ordination.


After Ordination training, I served the Church as a Methodist minister for 40 years. I was at the disposal of the Church, and worked as a Preacher and Pastor in various locations, mainly in the South East of England. I worked in collaboration and close association with Churches of various traditions, mainly the Church of England. I was appointed 'Chair of the London SE District' of the Methodist Church in 1999.


This was a role similar to a Bishop, with pastoral responsibilities covering a wide area. This made demands upon the tension between administering discipline and exercising pastoral care with mercy. I was given responsibilities which brought me into close contact with many other Churches throughout Europe. Mainly Lutheran, Reformed and Methodist Churches, which have signed up to the Leuenberg Agreement - the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE). However, this did not minimize the importance of fostering relationships with the Roman Catholic and Anglican Communities. I have worked very closely with all these traditions, and feel that it is vital to foster Christ-like relationships among all Churches, and there is still much work to be done.


In all my years of ministry I have been supported lovingly by my wife and family, especially at the time when our elder son died with brain cancer at the age of 40. My musical interests were sustained while comparing the paramount preaching ministry of the Church with the processes of musical interpretation exercised by performing musicians.


Gordon: Where did you study music and what instruments did you play?


Harvey: I was a student at the Royal Academy of Music in London for 2 years immediately after leaving school in 1964. I studied Violin and Piano. My Harmony and Composition teacher was Eric Fenby, who had been the amanuensis to the composer Frederick Delius from 1928 to 1934. My hermeneutic and interpretation interests were aroused through my contact with Fenby. In 2004 I gained a licentiate Diploma in Music from the London College of Music, with a dissertation about Delius and the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.


Gordon: Please share some information about your musical interests,


Harvey: I have maintained my musical interests throughout my life, through study and also as a member of a Piano Trio (Parson's Noyse) with two other clergy colleagues. We have played a very wide variety of musical styles but mainly from the classical and modern repertoire.


Gordon: Where do you serve as a Supernumerary minister and what are you responsibilities?


Harvey: I was a superintendent minister in South-East London (Welling, Bexleyheath), and also in Haywards Heath Sussex, and later - after my time as a District Chair - in Croydon, South London. My responsibilities included the upholding of the Methodist Church's life and tradition in these places, preaching the Gospel and celebrating the Sacraments with integrity, and ensuring that the Methodist people in my pastoral care were committed to spreading Scriptural Holiness through the land, by their life and Christian witness.


Gordon: What impact has the Covid-19 pandemic had upon your ministry?


Harvey: As I am now retired, I have not been required to take responsibilities in this. However, I have submitted 190 emails with Prayers, Readings, Music, Poetry and Art-work to a wide circle of friends and contacts. This has arisen as a result of restrictions and Covid lockdowns. I have also prepared 6 webinars which try to face up to the challenges and changes which the Church needs to confront for the future. e.g. are we able to become more loving as a Christian community and less dogmatic in our theological assumptions, etc.


Gordon: Thank you for this interview and your friendship!


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