Born at Consett, Co. Durham, on 20 July 1930. A keen soccer player, a career as a professional was a very real possibility in his early years. He read History at the University College of Leicester and took a diploma in education before serving as an education officer in the RAF. From 1955 to 1958 he was travelling secretary of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship, then trained for the ministry at Wesley House, Cambridge. From 1960 to 1962 he was Assistant Tutor at Headingley College, Leeds, then tutor in New Testament and Methodism at Trinity College, Umuahia, Eastern Nigeria 1962-1965, tutor in Historical Theology at Hartley Victoria College 1972-1973 and tutor in Practical Theology and Methodism at Wesley College, Bristol 1973-1982. From 1982 to 1995 he was General Secretary of the Division of Home Missions.
An evangelical, conservative in his IVF days, his great achievement was, through an eirenical and mediating realism, to restore evangelicalism to Methodist leadership. He was the only minister since the Union of 1932 to be elected twice as President of the Conference (1978 and 1990). He was Moderator of the FCFC in 1986 and Chairman of the World Methodist Council Executive 1991-1996. He was in demand as a speaker and preacher in many parts of the world. The author of many books seeking to relate Christianity to modern society, he was a noted Biblical expositor at conferences, e.g. at the World Methodist Conference in Dublin in 1976. He died on 28 August 1998. A memorial window to him and his wife Bertha (who had been Lady Warden at the Methodist College, Belfast), by Mark Cazalet, was unveiled by the Rev. Dr. Joe Hale, former General Secretary of the World Methodist Council, at Wesley's Chapel, London on 5 August 2001. Its biblical theme of 'God as fire' aims 'to celebrate the life of a man dedicated to evangelizing, encouraging and building up the Church' by imagery proclaiming 'God's active involvement with his people at all times and in all conditions'.