Geoffrey Wainwright
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Geoffrey Wainwright

July 16, 1939 - March 17, 2020

Chapel Hill

Geoffrey Wainwright was born in Yorkshire, England, the only child of Willie and Martha Ann Wainwright. At the University of Cambridge he studied Modern Languages and then Theology. He received a theological doctorate from the University of Geneva in 1972, and his Cambridge D.D. in 1987. He was ordained by the British Methodist Conference in 1967. For six years he served as a pastor and teacher at the Protestant Faculty of Theology in Yaoundé, Cameroon, which welcomed students from the French speaking churches along the West African coast. On returning to Britain in 1973 he taught at The Queen's College (joint Anglican Methodist) in Birmingham. In 1979 he moved with his wife and three children to the United States where he taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York before moving to Durham in 1983 where he became Professor of Systematic Theology at Duke Divinity School until his retirement in 2012.

He worked to promote understanding and unity between the churches through his membership (1976-1991) in the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. He was a principal editor of the text "Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry" drawn up by the Commission at Lima, Peru in 1982. Between 1986 and 2011 he served as chair on the Methodist side of the Joint Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church. Among his dozen sole-authored books the most influential remains his systematic theology, Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine and Life (OUP 1980).

He enjoyed traveling to international meetings where his language skills, (particularly French, German and Italian) made him feel at home. He took advantage of these travels to visit art museums and architectural monuments and record them with his ever-present camera. His love of photography continued to the end of his life. The first passion of his life was cricket which he learned in his Yorkshire village where his father was secretary of the Monk Bretton cricket club. Geoffrey played for Monk Bretton, for his school teams and his college team. He was sad that Americans did not share his enthusiasm for cricket. When he visited Australia, his hosts had to take him to every major cricket ground even out of season.

In 1965 he married Margaret Wiles, who survives him as do his children, Joanna Paulman (Lance), Catherine Aravosis, Dominic Wainwright (Jeannie) and his grandchildren, Wesley Paulman, Matthaios and Sofia Eleni Aravosis.

We would like to thank the staff of Carolina Meadows for their good care of him. Any tributes in his memory may be sent to Duke Divinity School, Box 90968, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708.

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Published in The News and Observer on Mar. 22, 2020.
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March 21, 2020
One afternoon in the Duke Divinity School Library, I had the blessing of speaking with Professor Wainwright. I'm not sure of the year, but I was a student at Duke Divinity School from 1995-99. This is a section of the library that is off to the side and has little traffic. When I ran into him, I spoke to him and addressed him as "Professor Wainwright." He seemed mildly impressed that I knew his name since I had not nor was I ever one of his students. He then took his time with me, and he talked with me for 15-20 minutes. I have never forgotten that day. Dr. Wainwright spoke with me and reminded me that I am important. We spoke about his book "Doxology" and many other things which I don't remember, but I remember how he made me feel. He reminded me that me and my ministry are important. It was one of those events in my Christian journey which I will never forget. Dr. Wainwright was kind, friendly, classy, and exuded grace. I've always remembered him and the kindness and Christian friendliness he showed me that day when it was just me and him in a section of the stacks in a side section of the library. He didn't have to take time to talk with me and make me feel important, but he did. I will never forget him, that day, and his Christian authenticity. Our condolences to his family. You are in our prayers.

Rev. Dr. Barry, Libby, and Georgia Allen
Kings Mountain Chapel UMC
York, South Carolina
Barry Allen
Acquaintance
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