Image of The Rev'd James Crockford

'Faith Beyond Fear': New book by the Dean of Chapel

Dean of Chapel and College Fellow, The Rev'd James Crockford, is the author of a new collection of sermons, Faith Beyond Fear: Sermons from Newman's Pulpit.

Before joining the College in 2019, The Rev'd James Crockford was previously in post at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, where he regularly preached from John Henry Newman’s pulpit.  Faith Beyond Fear is a newly published collection of Crockford's sermons from his time at the University Church. 

The University Church, Oxford was renowned as a powerhouse of innovation and reinvigoration in English Christianity through the 1830s and 1840s. Since Newman's day, its towering neogothic pulpit has offered a platform to the likes of C S Lewis, William Temple, Desmond Tutu, Rowan Williams, Philip Pullman, and Mona Siddiqui. Crockford's collection of sermons extends this tradition, reimagining the challenges of our world, and the meaning of Christian faith, in ways that seek to cut through the religious jumble and speaks to the fears and failings of our time. Crockford's sermons speak beyond the borders of religious identity and certainty, audaciously facing the societal undercurrents of anxiety and pain, hope and judgement.

The Rev'd Dr Ayla Lepine (2015), Chaplain, King's College, Cambridge commented, "Whether it's cryogenics, the pink tinge of the Red Sea's landscape, UFOs, or clickbait, Crockford's elegant yet unpretentious sermons bring us into the heart of the gospel in ways that reveal Scripture afresh."

We spoke to James about publishing his first collection of sermons, he said, "This little book captures something of the charism of Oxford's University Church, where there is a wonderful insistence on refusing and deconstructing easy answers and pious lingo, and seeing if, as faith breaks a bit, it might find ways to mend and prove stronger, deeper, wiser. It's an exercise in faith growing up, with an honesty about the growing pains that this often involves. My hope is that these sermons draw us deeper into the reality of our own predicaments and fears, to discover a presence and power that might surprise and disrupt us."

The Rt Rev'd Martin Seeley (1972), Bishop of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich, thoroughly recommended Faith Beyond Fear, saying, "James Crockford gives us an outstanding collection of exemplary sermons. His perceptive spiritual acuity and engagement with resonant life experiences take us into the depths of scriptural reality over and over again. James has a particular ability to speak into both heart and mind and does so with grace and humor."

The Rev'd James Crockford is Dean of Chapel, Welfare Tutor, and Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge. He was formerly Associate Vicar of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, and is a Fellow of the Royal Schools of Music.