In Memory of Dr T. Jack Thompson

Professor Brian Stanley remembers Dr T. Jack Thompson (1943–2017), former director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World

It is with great sadness that the School announces the death on 10 August 2017 of Dr T. Jack Thompson. Jack came to New College as Lecturer in Mission Studies in 1993 from the Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham.  He remained on the staff until December 2008, becoming Senior Lecturer in African Christianity. He served as Director of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World (now the Centre for the Study of World Christianity) from 2005 to 2008, and fulfilled a number of key roles in the School, including that of Director of Postgraduate Studies. He was a devoted supervisor of many PhD students in world Christianity.

In the world of scholarship Jack will be remembered for a series of important books, notably on Donald Fraser, the pioneering Scottish missionary to Malawi; Xhosa missionaries in Malawi; and missionary photography in Africa. He remained research active in his retirement; one of his last publications, ‘Religion and Mythology in the Chilembwe Rising of 1915 in Nyasaland and the Easter Rising of 1916 in Ireland: Preparing for the End Times?’, was published in Studies in World Christianity, 23:1 (April 2017). Jack had a lifelong love of Malawi, where he first went as a missionary in 1970. He played a leading role in the Scotland-Malawi Partnership that has been so influential in sustaining the historic links between Scotland and Malawi, and in recent times served for a year as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Livingstonia.

Jack was not simply an accomplished historian and dedicated servant of the School, but also a fine Christian man of great loyalty with a delightful Irish sense of humour. We shall all miss him greatly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his widow, Phyllis, their two children, Mark and Jenny, and his grandchildren.

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About Brian Stanley

Brian Stanley read history at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and stayed on in Cambridge for his PhD on the place of missionary enthusiasm in Victorian religion. He has taught in theological colleges and universities in London, Bristol, and Cambridge, and from 1996 to 2001 was Director of the Currents in World Christianity Project in the University of Cambridge. He was a Fellow of St Edmund's Collge, Cambridge, from 1996 to 2008, and joined the University of Edinburgh in January 2009.

4 thoughts on “In Memory of Dr T. Jack Thompson

  1. I’m very sad to hear this news. Jack was a great encouragement as well as a great teacher while I studied at the Centre in 1997-98, helping me to develop skills at postgraduate study level and to see how the practice of mission and the academic study of mission were not only compatible but actually beneficial. I really appreciated Jack’s demonstration of how Christian faith informed scholarship – and all done with a gentle sense of humour. My condolences to his family. He will be much missed by many.

  2. First, Andrew Ross and now Jack Thompson. You were more than professors to me. You were family. I will fondly remember Dr. Thompson as one of two people at New College I could discuss my Tumbuka and Malawi heritage with very comfortably. Farewell.

  3. Oh! This is sad news indeed! My supervisor, Lecturer, mentor, friend and fellow elder/leader in Edinburgh Presbytery, Church of Scotland. Jack was not only fine lecturer and good Christian man, he, by virtue of having lived and worked in Africa, also understood and appreciate the challenges that students particularly from the Non-West (or, as he often called it, ‘the two-thirds world’) faced in coming to the West and remaining there as research students at a top centre of learning like the CSCNWW, New College, University of Edinburgh. Jack welcomed me and many others into his home and, together with his wife Phyllis, kept a keen and close interest in our life, family and studies. As we say in Africa, Jack has not passed away, but has passed and now lives on in our memories of his passion for issues in mission, his kindness and friendship. We will miss you Jack and we’ll also keep Phyllis, family and friends in our thoughts and prayers. Rest in peace Mwalimu Jack, Rest in Peace.

  4. I was very sorry to hear of Jack’s passing. I did a MTh at the centre back in 1994 and found Jack to be a very clear and empowering teacher, wise adviser and encourager. More recently I served on the Edinburgh Presbytery and a committee on world mission with him. I always enjoyed catching up with Jack and getting his news and ‘take’ on various issues. His critical questions and stories hugely contributed to the meetings I attended with him. It was always a pleasure to meet up with him Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.

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