John Cox, Senior Pastor
I was born (1952) and raised in Cape Town, South Africa – educated at an Anglican-based private school. Initially I thought I was destined for school teaching and studied for a BA degree at Cape Town University majoring in Psychology, English and History. However in-between the beginning and the end of that degree I took a detour and spent two years working as a veterinary assistant in Cape Town and Swaziland. After finally graduating the call to ministry began to grow louder and I spent the next year working and living as part of a community supporting the then Archbishop of Cape Town Bill Burnett. Bill really spearheaded the ‘renewal movement’ in Southern Africa and his ministry had a major impact upon me, and my subsequent decision to be ordained into the Anglican Church.
In 1978 I enrolled at Wycliffe hall in Oxford where I spent the next three years training and earning a Certificate in Theology.
After graduating from Oxford I returned to South Africa where I was ordained and served as an assistant priest in two churches in the Cape Town suburbs over a period of 4 ½ years. These were the turbulent years of apartheid where ‘being a Christian’ and bearing witness to injustice led to challenging encounters with police, authority, and violence.
Between 1985 – 96 I served as Senior Pastor of St.Alban’s Church in Port Alberni. St. Alban’s left the Anglican communion in 1996 and started an independent fellowship in a Catholic school the next week with about 80% of the congregation at least moving together.
A year went by and ACF was establishing its new presence and identity while I personally began to experience a slow then swift emotional collapse. The end result was my resignation from ministry, a broken marriage, and a dark and deep period of depression, anger, and a spiritual black hole. It was undoubtedly the most difficult and traumatic period of my life and I certainly never thought I would ever consider returning to any form of public ministry. I went through a long period where I turned my back on God and felt abandoned, betrayed and disillusioned. However even with my back turned I could not deny God and deep within me I prayed that somehow, sometime, in some way he would get me through this hell.
For the next 8 years I worked in small business consulting in the mid-island region with varying degrees of success and satisfaction. I saw time and again the reality of money and ego’s destroying organizational growth and gradually my attempt at independence and success on my terms dissolved into sawdust. Once you have tasted God you never forget the real meaning of values and priorities. Slowly I turned back and reached out to Him and over the past few years He has been graciously working His healing within me. Part of that process was writing a basic pre-Christian book that was published by Harvest House in late 2007 (Googling God). When I heard of the new Anglican initiative (the one I had hoped for 8 years earlier) I contacted someone involved and began a series of conversations over a period of almost two years.
During that time my own inner faith and spiritual strength was nourished and fortified together with an increasing conviction that God was calling/pushing/prodding me to return to service in the church again … a calling that has been wonderfully worked out and refined through Jericho Road.
I came to this place with a sense of awe and humility, very aware of being a wounded servant and as Paul said about himself, “I am the greatest of sinners.”… but also confident that in fact there is no other way for a human being to be authentically human. I long for a church community that loves to worship as a means of enrichment and nourishment to equip each person to love and support others around them. I long for a place where people are accepted in their incompleteness and when sin (areas of struggle and/or rebellion with God) is revealed they are loved even more rather than shunned or rejected. I long for a place where God’s Word is alive and God’s Holy Spirit is given room to make that Word real and life changing in our midst. I long for a place where we break bread together and celebrate the wonder and mystery of the risen Lord Jesus. I long for a place in our community where the Christians are known by their love, their hope, their compassion, and their joy. It is journey of a lifetime from Jericho to Jerusalem and into eternity – and I suspect that those who are perpetual pilgrims in the Christian faith only discover such places.
I have two adult children… one is married and both are currently living and working in the UK
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael and Heather Kleyn
Youth and Young Adult Leaders