He was born at Buxton and educated at Buxton College and Durham University, where he also obtained a Dip.Ed. After teaching in England and the Ivory Coast, he trained for the ministry at Hartley Victoria College, obtaining a Manchester BD with first class honours. In 1991 he received a PhD from the Open University for a thesis on the theology of blessing in the Hebrew scriptures. While stationed in the Sheffield (Carver Street) Circuit he also served as a university chaplain (1976-1979). From 1979 to 1988 he was lecturer in Systematic Theology and later senior Methodist tutor at the Queen's College, Birmingham, and was convenor of the connexional Faith and Order Committee. From 1988 to 1995 he was General Secretary of the Division of Ministries and from 1995 to 2003 Chairman of the Liverpool District. He was President of the 1997 Conference and served on the Executive of the World Methodist Council. He describes himself as a liberal evangelical and ecumenist.