In memoriam: Geoffrey Wainwright (July 16, 1939 – March 17, 2020)

Geoffrey Wainwright was born in Yorkshire, England, the only child of Willie and Martha Ann Wainwright. At the University of Cambridge he studied Modern Languages and then Theology. He received a theological doctorate from the University of Geneva in 1972, and his Cambridge D.D. in 1987. He was ordained by the British Methodist Conference in 1967. For six years he served as a pastor and teacher at the Protestant Faculty of Theology in Yaoundé, Cameroon, which welcomed students from the French speaking churches along the West African coast. On returning to Britain in 1973 he taught at The Queen’s College (joint Anglican Methodist) in Birmingham. In 1979 he moved with his wife and three children to the United States where he taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York before moving to Durham in 1983 where he became Professor of Systematic Theology at Duke Divinity School until his retirement in 2012.He was a member (1976-1991) in the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. He was a principal editor of the text “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry” drawn up by the Commission at Lima, Peru in 1982. Between 1986 and 2011 he served as chair on the Methodist side of the Joint Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church. Among his books the most influential remain his systematic theology, Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine and Life (OUP 1980), and The Oxford History of Christian Worship, co-edited by fellow Academy member Karen Westerfield Tucker.

He enjoyed traveling to international meetings where his language skills, (particularly French, German and Italian) made him feel at home. He took advantage of these travels to visit art museums and architectural monuments and record them with his ever-present camera. His love of photography continued to the end of his life. The first passion of his life was cricket which he learned in his Yorkshire village where his father was secretary of the Monk Bretton cricket club. Geoffrey played for Monk Bretton, for his school teams and his college team. He was sad that Americans did not share his enthusiasm for cricket. When he visited Australia, his hosts had to take him to every major cricket ground even out of season.

In 1965 he married Margaret Wiles, who survives him as do his children, Joanna Paulman (Lance), Catherine Aravosis, Dominic Wainwright (Jeannie) and his grandchildren, Wesley Paulman, Matthaios and Sofia Eleni Aravosis.

Tributes in his memory may be sent to Duke Divinity School, Box 90968, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708.

A Service of Christian Burial is contemplated at a time when this becomes possible.

Bio Credit: The Family of Geoffrey Wainwright
Image Credit: Duke Divinity School



  1. His book, Eucharist and Eschatology, has been one of the most influential books on my theological and liturgical formation. R.I.P. Condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

  2. A scholar and a gentleman. I had the privilege of meeting him through Societas Liturgica, but was long acquainted with his published work, which lives on after him as a legacy. I believe his last years were sadly marked by Alzheimer’s disease. May he rest now in peace, partaking of the fullness of that praise which he studied and taught so richly in this life.

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