About Rev Dr Keith V Garner
- Brief biography
- Academic background
- Communicating the Christian faith
- Contemporary worship
- His call to Australia
- The Church's role in social justice
- The role of the city church
- The Wesleyan tradition
- His journey of faith
- Rev Dr Keith V Garner photo gallery
- February 2006 Induction
Keith was born in the UK and was brought into the Christian faith through Methodist youth work in the Bolton Rochdale District.
Between 1977 and 1980 he was a student at Wesley College, Bristol. He began his ministry at Plymouth Central Hall and in 1983 became the minister of Elm Ridge in Darlington, where the church underwent a remarkable period of growth.
In 1992 he became Superintendent of Colwyn Bay & Llandudno Circuit and was minister of St John's Llandudno, one of Britain's largest congregations, as well as helping to develop St David's Craig-y-Don into a modern, progressive church.
He was appointed Chair of the Bolton Rochdale District in 2001.
Rev Keith Garner ministers to the community.
He completed his Master of Theology at Oxford University in 1995 and was given an Honorary Doctorate by the Evangelical Bible Institute in Yangon for his work throughout the world in supporting poorer communities.
Best known as an inspiring and gifted preacher, he has preached throughout the world - in Africa, Iceland, across Europe, the United States of America, the Far East, Burma and India.
He has a vision for the Christian church agencies and mission and is a hands-on worker who uses organisational skills alongside an ability to delegate. His interests include travel, community involvement and sport. He is a former chaplain to the Bolton Wanderers Football Club.
Introducing Rev Dr Keith V Garner
|1974-76||Evangelism and Mission Studies at Cliff College (a Methodist lay training college) in the Peak District of Derbyshire. This was followed by a year as a Trainee Evangelist|
|1976-77||Evangelist at the Bolton Central Mission, prior to entering Wesley College, Bristol, in September 1977, studying Theology and undertaking Ministerial Training|
|1977-80||Student at Wesley College, Bristol|
|1980-83||Plymouth Central Hall, Devon|
|1982||Ordained as a Methodist Minister in June 1982|
|1983-92||Elm Ridge, Darlington|
|1989 -92||While an active minister, engaged in studies which resulted in being awarded a Post-Graduate Diploma in Applied Theology at Westminster College, Oxford|
|1991-95||Continued academic studies and awarded a Master of Theology by the University of Oxford (1995)|
|1992-01||Superintendent, St John's Llandudno, Colwyn Bay & Llandudno Circuit, North Wales|
|2001-05||Chairman of District, Bolton & Rochdale Methodist District|
|2009||Awarded Honorary D.D, Evangelical Bible Institute Yangon|
"If the Christian faith is going to mean anything it's got to speak to life's complexities. It's got to be able to address the fact that we live in a very muddled world and not everything is black and white and easily answered."
"Looking at the next few years there will be times in which the challenges for Wesley Mission will be great. We're moving into a new world. This isn't the world of the last 25 years; it's a very different kind of world. We have to be a listening community as well as a declaring community. That ought to even affect the way we declare the faith. It means we take all people seriously. We've got to be a mission that's ready to do that. We are going to have to learn to do things differently."
"For me, the Christian faith is first and last, not a cultural identity but a faith identity. The Christian faith has a great deal to say to our multicultural society. "I believe the 'word and deed' that we claim is so important is put into practice in our world."
"...belonging to Jesus has always meant real concern for the world."
"We belong to Jesus - but what are we going to say about the poor? We belong to Jesus - what are we going to say about inequality? We belong to Jesus - what are we going to say about society as it is? There are always people who separate these things; people who think that once they believe in Jesus they don't need to engage in the real world. Everything happens around them but it doesn't impact upon their faith. But for me, from the very earliest times, belonging to Jesus has always meant real concern for the world. One of the greatest things you can do when you're caring for people is to discover the reason why you do it. Wesley Mission does it for Jesus Christ."
"It's not the accent that you have or your origins that matter; what matters is that you love God and that you care for people. I think people hear that language and it overrides cultural identity."
"All over the world people are looking for an authentic voice. Part of my vision for the future of Wesley Mission is that we would understand our connectedness to each other; the connections across our differences. I think there's a danger in groups working separately. We are really called to work together."
"Right at the heart of this organisation we ought to be the best employers possible. We ought to be the most caring of each other as staff. We ought to be the kind of organisation that says of each other, 'This is really worth being part of'. That way Wesley Mission will deliver its ultimate mission objectives even better."
"I think churches that share their faith and look outwards are churches that don't become insular and dominated by their own agenda."
"When Charles Wesley wrote hymns he knew he wanted music that all people could identify with. Today our church music has become so encrusted within a church culture that people outside them can't identify with it. We've created a modern Christian culture that the rest of the world can't understand."
"The Cross of Christ is not just a theology we preach, it's the life we lead; I live by Christ who gave himself for me. In fact all the darkest words that you can think of - betrayal, hurt, bitterness, rejection - they're all in the Cross for me."
"Worship is central to the mission of the church. Worship is not an added extra and certainly while I'm Superintendent it will not be an added extra at Wesley Mission. The worship of God is central. Not just in our preaching but in our praises, prayers, by the opening of the Bible, by understanding faith and by social action."
"It seems to me there's room for all of those expressions."
"The truth is, much of traditional church life and worship is still carried out in the way it was a hundred years ago. The challenge is to continue praising God but to do it in a worship context appropriate for the 21st century. This means songs, prayer, drama and whatever it takes to be 'real' to a whole new generation of people."
"The Scriptures lie at the centre of what we're about and I believe any church should reflect that. The preaching of the word matters but not the preacher. Church can be in a barn, on the beach or in a glorious old cathedral. But there are some things that will always matter and one is the opening up of the Scriptures."
"I do believe that we as evangelicals have to rediscover what the communion means. The communion is not ad hoc, it was right at the beginning. When they met together they opened the Bible, they shared each others needs and they broke bread together. Today, we need to find culturally relevant ways to do this."
"Wesley Mission is a broad church; it has people who enjoy expressing worship in a charismatic, free way; it has people that want to express their worship in a very formal way. It seems to me there's room for all of those expressions. "However, breadth of expression doesn't mean that I think all ideas have equal value. I am committed to preaching the Good News as it is found in Scripture and applying that Gospel to the specific circumstances of life. The Bible, for me, is not a useful reference point, but the authority which gives shape to everything that we say and do."
"I remember a young person once saying to me when he came into a church that had a big pulpit and pews that he'd never been into anything like that except in court. That is very significant really. He probably associated the church with a kind of legal, authoritative institution. I think we have to think creatively and fluidly about what our churches look like, sound like and feel like. The church has got to use contemporary methods to reach today's people."
"The call to Australia was an amazing turnaround in my life."
"At the time, my wife Carol and I were on a mission on a Caribbean island. There was just one Internet service on the whole island and it was in the public library. Well, on this occasion Carol was on the Internet and I was at the other end of the library and I shouted out, 'Is there anything I ought to see?' and she was very quiet. She said, 'I think you'd better read this'. 'This' was the letter of invitation from Wesley Mission in Australia to consider applying for the Superintendent's position."
"The world has become a smaller place."
"I think for three nights we just didn't sleep. We knew that in a mission of this kind there wasn't a short-term commitment, it needed to be long-term. We had to be giving our lives to it. We were both conscious that it would involve leaving family and close friends in the UK and that was a sacrifice that eventually God enabled us to face. Additionally it meant, for me, being prepared to give up the familiar and proven identity that I had within the British Church."
"I came to Australia for a day for an interview! And it was five months later that the offer was made following due process inviting us to come to Wesley Mission."
"I think if someone had said to me, 'You one day will live in Australia', that would have been like living on Mars. Well, that's all gone. The world has become a smaller place."
"Here in Australia, as anywhere, it takes time to be a part of the culture. The 'give people a go attitude' is very positive. And our connectedness with the whole world is increasingly important for the stability of the world."
"I certainly am not a 'clever Brit' who brings all the answers but one who will work alongside others in the pursuit of Christ and His Kingdom. I have appreciated the opportunity of four months in Sydney, prior to taking up this appointment, to get to know the huge scope of Wesley Mission and to engage with Australian culture."
"The Christian faith has got to tackle life's complexities. Not everything is black and white and easily answerable. We need to be able to say we belong to Jesus - but what are we going to say about the poor? We belong to Jesus - what are we going to say about inequality? We belong to Jesus - what are we going to say about the society we live in? "There are always people who separate these things. Once they believe in Jesus, it somehow takes them out of the realities of the real world. But for me, belonging to Jesus has always meant concern for the world."
"We have been brilliant at Wesley Mission in delivering at the initial point of need, of helping people in their poverty in to somewhere to sleep, to a bed. What we've got to do is address not only that issue but the causes of poverty. We've got to look at the whole way in which cities grow and how easily they disenfranchise people."
"Charitable work is much more than just giving something to eat. It's really about enabling disadvantaged people to see that they can play a part in society."
"We've got to look at the whole way in which cities grow and how easily they disenfranchise people."
"It's also about standing up for people. One of the sad features of modern life is ignorance of and insensitivity towards people in need. Every time I look at the ministry of Jesus I am moved at the way in which He responded to people, especially those whose situation seemed hopeless. From the witness of the Bible, I find it impossible to imagine Jesus telling people to pull their own socks up, to stop being lazy, or that people's predicament was their own responsibility."
"When we at Wesley Mission are engaged in welfare and the whole social arena, we do it first and last because we do it for Christ. That makes us different from people who do it out of a sense of charitable purpose alone. We need to remind ourselves of this again and again: that we're caring for people and delivering a service because we believe that this is what Christ wants us to do."
"Since arriving in Australia, I have been concerned at the rising incidence of depression and we have embarked on a study of the impact on aged care. We shall carry out this work alongside the most professional and skilful people in Australia. Equally, I have been concerned at the inability within communities for people to appreciate the multicultural reality of living in Australia today. In coming to this great country, I would see multicultural life as one of our greatest assets and the Christian faith can help to make possible a new vision for community. I am sure that empirical based research is important to the work of organisations like Wesley Mission."
"Anything that is done for Christ is never wasted. Sometimes we have to be prepared to work with almost impossible situations. We should not always say to ourselves, 'We're always going to see tangible results, we're going to see massive changes everywhere'. But in being faithful to the Gospel, in being faithful to people, we will see fruit sometimes. That will encourage us."
"We are positioned right in the middle of the city - we ought to engage with the community and corporate life here. We are very much a city church."
"Wesley Mission is probably nearer to a New Testament church than many other models of church. There's probably something like 2,500 people who worship at Wesley in different ways; 700 or 800 in the morning, a few hundred at night, and then through all the various other services scattered throughout the week. It's not a church like many other churches, it's a disparate church, a church expressing itself in all kinds of cultural identities, and I'm just thrilled about that."
"Ministry on the edge is where it should be."
"This organisation is a church in the sense that at the heart of it are people who pray, worship, and who give shape to the rest of the mission. But Wesley Mission has clearly grown far bigger than a local church. You could call it a movement rather than a church."
"The church is a place where we must offer the gospel, not only for those who are not part of the church but those who are part of the church too."
"The real issue is persuading people here that we are at the beginning of a new era and we've got to mobilise and position Wesley Mission into a place where it can be most effective in the 21st Century. That's the greatest challenge of all."
"I believe that the church should always go to the edges of society - those edges where you encounter strangers, you rub shoulders with people outside the church - and find ways to cross those edges with the good news."
"Ministry that becomes comfortable is really dangerous. Ministry on the edge is where it should be."
"We are living in an age where change is so rapid that we need to have the kind of organisation and mission that is able to respond to the needs of our society. We need to recognise and utilise each others gifts. And I believe affirming and enabling are the hallmarks of good leadership."
"All through my ministry I've had a sense of wanting to be alongside people who, through no fault of their own, found themselves in circumstances that disadvantaged them in life. Coming to Australia to work at Wesley Mission is clearly a place where, in a very unique way, I will be able to continue that original calling of mine - to work alongside people like that."
"I don't see other social agencies as a threat. In a sense I want to say the more there are the better because there's so much out there to actually do and achieve. There are some fantastic groups and I don't think they are competing for people with us, I think we're actually working alongside them in caring for people."
"I'm a Methodist by conviction and I am a Uniting Church minister, fully committed to what this means. However, I'm also of the generation that crossed the boundaries, so my preaching and teaching ministry has taken me into all the other denominations."
"John Wesley said, 'I look upon the world as my parish'. He started preaching in the open air to reach isolated groups of people - a novelty for that time."
"He preached to the largely illiterate, violent Kingswood miners in Bristol, England, and the story is told that as he preached, the black faces of the coalminers - who were not accepted in church, who were people not considered dirty just in physical terms, they were considered disenfranchised from all that the Church was - their black faces had white lines as the tears rolled down as the Gospel was taken to them."
"We've got to say to ourselves, who are those miners today? Who are the people who are cut off from normal church life and how do we reach them with the Gospel? How do we spell out what it means to believe in Jesus outside the Church box?"
"In Britain, I used to say my main concern were the 48 million people who never attended church."
"Here in Australia it would be the 3 million people in Sydney who never go anywhere near a church. How do we articulate the Christian faith for them? I don't think for a minute that they are going to become Christians because they're Anglicans or Uniting or Baptist. They are going to become Christians because somebody somewhere took the time to take the Gospel to them in a creative and expressive way so that the testimony became real."
"How do we spell out what it means to believe in Jesus outside the Church box?"
"For me, naming Christ is very important. One of the greatest things you can do when you care for people is discover the reason why you do it. Wesley Mission does it for Christ."
"I want my contribution to be seen primarily as a preacher of the Gospel. Wesley Mission is first and last a very unique church with an enormous scope for mission and compassion through a huge network of programs. For me, once Wesley Mission ceases to be a church it will cease to be valid in its authenticity - we might as well let the work be done by other people. Because there are many other people who could deliver some of the services we deliver. But it's not just the service we deliver, it's the reason we do it."
"We have to ask both these questions: how does what we are doing here help to lift high the name of Christ? How does what we are doing here help to care for the poor?"
"If our work doesn't care for the poor, if it doesn't help people to grow in Christ and enhance the Ministry and Mission, what are we doing there? I think there's tremendous growth ahead of us if we'll only harness it."
"My own Christian story began one terribly foggy night when a young man from Northern Ireland came to my church to give testimony of his calling. I was 16 years old at the time. This man (who'd seen his father shot down in Northern Ireland) talked about the Christian faith being very real to him. For the first time, Christianity really spoke deeply to me: here was somebody who could talk about losing his father in a pool of blood and yet talk about believing in God."
"I found that difficult. But he sat down and told me what to do. He told me that I needed to confess my need of God, to recognise that my sins needed to be forgiven and to find a living relationship with God. He taught me how to do it."
"It took a few weeks for the reality of what had happened that night to really start to express itself, and I think that's always been important to me because young people expect things today, always today."
"Sometimes God has to strip us of all the planks and the certainties and the things that make us important in order to be effective for Him."
"The moment came during a service two weeks later when we were singing a hymn, and the words were, 'O the bitter shame and sorrow/ That a time could ever be,/ When I let the Saviour's pity/ Plead in vain and proudly answered,/ All of self and none of Thee' - and I knew, that's where I was. The last verse is, 'Higher than highest heaven, Deeper than the deepest sea,/ Lord, Thy love at last has conquered./ Grant me now my supplication,/ None of self and all of Thee'. I knew that was where I wanted to be."
"That journey was important, and it came about through that young Irishman's testimony. I've never met him since. He came on a stormy, foggy night, and I often think he came for me that night to give that testimony."
"Within a very short period of time I wanted to activate that Christian faith. In six months I was telling my minister, 'I want to declare the faith, I want to preach'."
"I've never really doubted the Christian faith but I've doubted myself many times. I've been disappointed in the Church, I've been disappointed in people and I have certainly been disappointed with myself. We all have those experiences. The 'dark night of the soul' does happen to people."
"Sometimes God has to strip us of all the planks and the certainties and the things that make us important in order to be effective for Him. That's the theology of the Cross. It's not the old Christus Victor image that this is just all about victory. The victory in the Cross is that, as He is dying, Jesus says, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?', and that when at the death He says, 'It is accomplished - it is finished' there is a tremendous sense of affirmation after all the darkness and the depth of rejection and hurt."
"All the darkest words that you can think of, betrayal, hurt, bitterness, rejection, they're all in the Cross. And the Cross is not just a theology we preach, it's the life we lead: 'I live by Christ who gave Himself for me'."