Archbishop of Canterbury honours Lay Canon

A Lay Canon of Christ Church Cathedral has received a rare personal honour from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Richard Fisher, who is Chief Executive Officer of Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) in Abingdon was awarded the 2020 Alphege Award for Evangelism and Witness.

The award recognises Richard’s ‘outstanding innovative work in supporting and developing Fresh Expressions of Church such as Messy Church, Who Let The Dads Out? and, more recently, Anna Chaplaincy.’

First awarded in 2016, the Alphege Award reflects Archbishop Justin Welby’s particular concern for evangelism and witness. Richard is one of four recipients this year.

The citation begins: ‘Over the past 28 years as Chief Executive of The Bible Reading Fellowship, Richard Fisher has led the Charity in a remarkable way, developing it from being primarily a print organisation to becoming a leader, and arguably the leader, in fostering Fresh Expressions of Church in the United Kingdom.’

The tenth anniversary of the Anna Chaplaincy – which supports older people emotionally and spiritually – was celebrated at a special Candlemas Carol Service in the Cathedral earlier this year.

Richard said: ‘I was completely stunned when I was first told about it. It is a huge honour and I feel very humbled to receive this recognition from Archbishop Justin for my work with BRF.’

The Dean of Christ Church, the Very Revd Martyn Percy, said: ‘Richard has done the most amazing job in presiding over BRF. His vision and imagination have ensured that BRF’s publications and outreach extends across the churches and beyond. 

‘His work has sustained and developed the original foundation of BRF, that sought to encourage the reading of the bible for all times, peoples and places, and also learn how to apply and practice what the scriptures teach us.

‘I could not be more delighted for Richard, and this award rightly recognises and affirms someone whose work will prove to be a lasting legacy. For all that has been, we give thanks. For all that is still to come, we pray and work for.’

The Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, the Bishop of Dorchester and the Chair of Trustees, congratulated Richard on the award. ‘On any analysis BRF, under Richard’s leadership, has been the most significant organisation working alongside the Church of England and our ecumenical partners in fostering Fresh Expressions of Church in recent years

‘Without Richard’s leadership and vision the impact they have made would have been a great deal less and all of us at BRF are delighted that the Archbishop has chosen to recognise his contribution to Evangelism and Witness in this way.’