The Rev. Canon Colin Craston, a World War II naval hero who became one of England’s leading evangelical priests and a chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, died peacefully as his home Jan. 25. He was 94.
He was educated at Tyndale Hall in Bristol, earning a BA from Bristol University in 1949 and a Bachelor of Divinity from London University in 1951. In 1992 he was awarded a Lambeth Doctorate in Divinity.
Craston was ordained deacon in 1951 and priest in 1952, serving his curacy at St. Nicholas’ Church in Durham. In 1954 he became vicar of St. Paul’s Church in Bolton, which he served for almost 40 years.
He also served as priest-in-charge and then vicar of Emmanuel Church in Bolton, becoming team rector of the newly created team ministry in 1986. In 1968 he was made an honorary canon of Manchester Cathedral and he also served as Rural Dean of Bolton. In 1985 he was made one of the honorary chaplains to Queen Elizabeth II. He retired in 1992 and retained permission to officiate.
He was elected as the Church of England’s clerical member of the Anglican Consultative Council in 1981 and remained on the ACC for 15 years, serving as vice chairman and then chairman of the council from 1990 to 1996.
“Canon Colin Craston will be gratefully missed for his pivotal contributions to the life of the Anglican Communion,” said Archbishop Paul Kwong, Primate of Hong Kong and chairman of the ACC. “He brought with him many gifts during his 15 years of service on the Anglican Consultative Council, six of those years as chairman. He helped build up the Communion for mission and laid down a strong foundation upon which the future development of the Communion has been possible.”
Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, described Colin Craston as “a highly significant figure both in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.”
Idowu-Fearon added: “His wisdom and insight were widely valued. There will be many people around our global family who will mourn his passing but will remember with warmth just how much his life enriched theirs.”
In 2011, Canon Craston was the first clerical member to be admitted to the newly created Order of William Temple, an honorific of the Diocese of Manchester. He was admitted to the order by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, and the Bishop of Manchester, Nigel McCulloch.
He had served as chairman of the Li Tim Oi Foundation, which supports women’s ordination to the priesthood worldwide. He advocated for the ordination of women from an evangelical perspective.
He published six books: Heaven, Science, and the Last Things; Evangelical and Evolving; Debtor to Grace; Biblical Headship and the Ordination of Women; Anglicanism and the Universal Church; and Silence of Eternity.
In 2014 he was awarded a medal by the Russian Federation for his work protecting Arctic convoys during the Second World War. Canon Craston had served as a wireless telegraphist on the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Eclipse for a year before being sent ashore in March 1943. The ship sank seven months later in the Aegean Sea near Greece, killing 119 of the 145-member crew.
After his first wife died, Colin Craston found love again with the Rev. Brenda Fullalove. The couple were married at Lambeth Palace in a service presided over by Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey. He leaves behind Brenda, two children, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Adapted from ACNS