Tel: 01722 424816
I grew up in Greenford, a west-London suburb, and then studied at Bristol University. I stayed on at Bristol to do my second degree, and then trained as a Methodist minister. My first appointment was to a large social housing estate called Wythenshawe, in south Manchester (1977-81). We then moved further north to Lancaster, where I was Methodist chaplain to the university and a part-time circuit minister (1981-89). I did my MPhil whilst in Lancaster, on Luke-Acts’ and Paul’s strategies for dealing with the stigma of the cross. I stayed in the world of HE chaplaincy when we moved to Wimbledon, where I was chaplain of Southlands College, in what was to become the University of Roehampton, and visiting lecturer in the Theology and Religious Studies department, teaching courses in the Sociology and Anthropology of Religion (1989-96). Immediately before moving to STETS I was Director of the Roehampton Institute London’s Church Leaving Applied Research Project 1996-1997. I am married to Rosemary, who is also a Methodist minister in the Salisbury circuit. We have 2 grownup children, and 3 grandchildren.
Teaching & Research:
I am a theological educator, sociologist, and ordained Methodist minister. In the last few years my publications have been in the areas of church affiliation and disaffiliation (Gone for Good?: Church-Leaving & Returning in the 21st Century, Epworth, 2007 – co-authored with Leslie J Francis) and local church studies (Studying Local Churches, SCM, 2005 – as co-editor). My approach to theology and spirituality has always been contextual and interdisciplinary. This is reflected in my most recent research, which has been exploring the interface between the spirituality of Thomas Merton and the cultural history of photography. During my last sabbatical I began to explore the potential of visual sociology, and used photography to compare and contrast people’s experiences of Sunday in 3 different European locations. My teaching tends to focus, though not exclusively, on contextual modules and weekends, and study skills support.
‘The Churches, Community and Ideology’, Epworth Review 8, no 2, 40-49, May 1981
‘Recent Sociological Approaches to the Study of the New Testament’, Religion 14, 77-90, 1984
‘Seven days’ trading make One Weak?: The Sunday Trading Issue as an Index of Secularization’’ British Journal of Sociology 45, no 3, 333-348, 1994
‘Graduation Day: A Rite of Passage in Transition?’, Reflections on Higher Education, 6, 56-63, 1994
‘Turning Leavers into Returners’, Ministry Today 15, 12-17, 1999 (with Leslie J. Francis)
‘Religion and Philosophy’, U3A Sources: An Educational Bulletin 10, 1-2, November 2000
‘Do Moving Ministers Move Congregations? Rational Choice Theory and the Philosophy and Practice of Methodist Ministerial Itinerancy’, Religion 32/1, 39-50, 2002.
‘That Elusive Methodist Identity: A Sociological Perspective’, Epworth Review 29/1, 39-48, 2002.
‘Late Developer: Thomas Merton’s Discovery of Photography as a Medium for his Contemplative Vision’, Spiritus, 6/2, 195-212, 2006.
‘Different Lenses for Studying Local Churches: A Critical Study of the Uses of Photographic Research Methods’, Journal of Contemporary Religion, 26/2, 207-223, 2011.
Chapters in Books -
‘Sociological Criticism’ in S. E. Porter & D. Tombs, eds., Approaches to New Testament Study, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press JSNT Supplement Series 120, pp 266-309, 1995
‘Charismatic Mysticism – A Sociological Analysis of the “ Toronto Blessing”’, in Stanley E. Porter, The Nature of Religious Language, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996, 100-130
‘The Toronto Blessing: Charismatic Evangelical Global Warming’ in Stephen Hunt, Malcolm Hamilton & Tony Walter, eds., Charismatic Christianity: Sociological Perspectives, London: Macmilllan, 1997, 97-119
‘Church Leaving in the Late Twentieth-century: Eschewing the Double Life’, in Leslie J. Francis, ed. Sociology and the Curriculum, London: Cassells, 1999
‘Gone but not Quite out of the Frame: The Distinctive Problems of Researching Religious Disaffiliation’, in Leslie J. Francis and Yaacov J. Katz, eds. Joining and Leaving Religion: Research Perspectives, Leominster: Gracewing, 2000, 21-31
‘Denominational Cultures: The Cinderella of Congregational Studies?’, in M. Guest, K Tusting & L. Woodhead, eds. Congregational Studies in the UK: Christianity in a Post-Christian Context, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004, 169-184
‘“God is not a Gentleman!”: The Sociology of the Toronto Blessing’, in Michael J. McClymond, ed. Embodying the Spirit: New Perspectives on North American Revivalism , London: John Hopkins University Press, 2004, 253-271.
Dunlop, S. & Richter, P., ‘Visual Methods’ in Religion and Youth, S. Collins-Mayo & P. Dandelion, eds., Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010.
Social Analysis for Prophets, Aston: Aston Training Scheme module (1994)
The Toronto Blessing – Or Is It? London: Darton, Longman & Todd (1995) [co-editor and contributor, with Stanley E Porter]
Gone but not Forgotten: Church Leaving and Returning London: DLT (1998) [principal and co-author, with Leslie J Francis]
New Vision, New Fire, Salisbury: Diocese of Salisbury (1998) [co-author with David Durston]
God’s Here and Now: Social Contexts of the Ministry of the People of God, London: DLT (1999) [editor]
Studying Local Churches: a Handbook. London: SCM, 2005 [co-editor with Helen Cameron, Douglas Davies & Frances Ward].
Gone for Good?: Church-Leaving & Returning in the 21st Century, Peterborough: Epworth, 2007 [co-authored with Leslie J Francis]
Leisure interests -
I enjoy walking – especially fell walking when we can get back to the north-west. I also enjoy all things Italian. In my spare time I have been learning Italian. My favourite places in Italy include Firenze, Venezia & Pompei. Another of my passions is photography. One of my pictures of Salisbury Cathedral in the snow was chosen for the front cover of the glossy Wiltshire Life recently.