The 60 most influential Christians

Published 04 April 2012
Pop stars, church leaders, scientists and politicians are just some of the people to make it onto Premier Christian Radio's list of the 60 most influential Christians.

The list has been compiled to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this year and is based on nominations from church leaders of influential Christians who have lived in the Commonwealth during the Queen's sixty year reign.

Among the musicians on the list are Sir Cliff Richard and U2 frontman Bono, both of whom have written songs with religious and spiritual themes.

Mother Teresa appears on the list in honour of her lifelong commitment to India's poor and neglected.

Christians noted for their contribution to the written word include Harry Potter author J K Rowling and Lord of the Rings author J R R Tolkein.

Sir Winston Churchill is accompanied on the list by fellow politicians Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Ian Paisley and Shirley Williams.

Premier Christian Radio’s CEO, Peter Kerridge said: “The list celebrates Christians who have excelled in their chosen sphere of endeavour and have, accordingly, been a major influence in the shaping of our world since our Queen came to the throne.

“We feel it is appropriate, in this Diamond Jubilee Year, to acknowledge their work.”

Premier's 60 most influential Christians are:

Church

Mother Teresa (1910 - 1997) was a Roman Catholic nun originally from who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, in 1950. For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity's expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries. Following her death, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II and given the title "Blessed Teresa of Calcutta".

The Rev'd Kathleen Margaret Richardson, Baroness Richardson of Calow OBE is a cross-bench member of the House of Lords. She was the first woman to be appointed Chairman of the West Yorkshire District of the Methodist Church, and the first woman President of Churches Together in England. She was honoured in 1996 with an OBE for services to the ecumenical movement and then in 1998, was created a life peer in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. She was given early retirement from the Methodist Church in order to be able to spend more time in the House.

Andrew White is vicar of St George's Church, Baghdad, the only Anglican Church in Iraq. Dubbed the "Vicar of Baghdad", he is also President of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. At the age of 33 years he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a condition which for many years affected his mobility and his speech. He has been undergoing a new stem cell treatment for MS at a clinic in Baghdad and believes it is having a positive effect. In March 2011 on a visit to America, he claimed to have been healed miraculously of many of the effects of M.S. at Bethel Church, in Redding, California USA.

Gladys Aylward (1902 - 1970) was an evangelical Christian missionary in China whose story was told in the book The Small Woman by Alan Burgess, published in 1957. With just a passport, her Bible, her tickets, and two pounds ninepence, she made the perilous, overland journey to the inland city of Yangchen, in the mountainous province of Shansi, a little south of Peking.

John Bertram Phillips (1906 - 1982) was a Bible translator, writer and clergyman, often referred to as just J. B. Phillips. His work translating the New Testament made him one of Britain's most famous Bible communicators. Phillips also translated parts of the Old Testament.

Frederick Fyvie Bruce (1910 - 1990) was a Biblical scholar and one of the founders of the modern evangelical understanding of the Bible. His first book New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (1943) was voted by the American evangelical periodical Christianity Today in 2006 as one of the top fifty books "which had shaped evangelicals".

Donald Soper (1903 –1998), the first Methodist minister to become a member of the House of Lords, once remarked that the institution was "proof of the reality of life after death". Methodism, socialism and pacifism made the foundations of Soper's life. Soper practised what he called the "fellowship of controversy", and became one of the great Christian apologists of our time.

Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury is a poet, theologian and church historian; a gifted preacher and pastor. Last month, the Archbishop decided to retire after only 10 years in office. It’s reported that he’s due to leave his post in December 2012.

Trevor Huddleston (1913 - 1998) was an English Anglican bishop. He’s best known for his anti-apartheid activism and his 'Prayer for Africa'. He was appointed President of the Anti-Apartheid movement in 1981.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a South African activist and retired Anglican Bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He won the Nobel peace prize in 1984 for his efforts.

Revd Nicholas Gumbel, Anglican Vicar and author. Gumbel developed the Alpha Course from a basic discipleship course into a hugely influential and international evangelistic course attended by over 8 million people around the world.

Clive Staples Lewis (1898 - 1963) - C. S. Lewis was a novelist, poet and academic. He was also a lay theologian and Christian apologist known as much for his non-fiction works including Mere Christianity, Miracles and The Problem of Pain as well as his fictional work; The Chronicles of Narnia

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899 - 1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. A minister of Westminster Chapel, Lloyd-Jones was strongly opposed to Liberal Christianity, which had become a part of many Christian denominations; he regarded it as aberrant.

Janani Jakaliya Luwum (1922 – 1977), was the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda from 1974 to 1977 and one of the most influential leaders of the modern church in Africa. He was murdered after speaking out against the killings and unexplained disappearances under Idi Amin’s regime.

Rev John Robert Walmsley Stott CBE (1921 –2011) was rector of All Souls Church, Langham Place, in the West End of London from 1950 to 1975. He’s dubbed as one of the most influential Anglican clergymen of the 20th century. Author of over 50 books, most of which achieved enormous sales, virtually all of his considerable royalties went to charitable trusts.

Charity

Jackie Pullinger, a British Protestant Christian charismatic missionary to Hong Kong and founder of the St Stephen's Society, which provides rehabilitation homes for recovering drug addicts, prostitutes, and gang members.

General Eva Burrows. Billy Graham has dubbed her as ‘unquestionably one of the most respected and influential Christian leaders of our time’. Internationally renowned, Burrows shaped the Salvation Army's ministry in post-colonial Africa and Eastern Europe (significantly) when the wall came down in 1990. She’s still active in her church in Melbourne in her 80s.

George Hoffman, Founder of Tearfund. The charity was created out of the Evangelical Alliance and the Evangelical Refugee Fund created by the United Nations. George Hoffman headed up the fund which was registered as a charity in March 1973.

Basil Hume (1923 - 1999) former Benedictine monk appointed Archbishop of Westminster in 1976. He also served as President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales until his death.

Peter & Miranda Harris – Founders of A Rocha. Far beyond the benefits of small-scale projects in many countries, they lit the spark of Christian concern for the environment in a way that it became widespread in the USA and now Asia.

Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dr Richard Chartres, Bishop of London since 1995. He delivered the much talked about sermon for Prince William and Catherine Middleton wedding at Westminster Abbey last year. Before ordination he taught Ancient History at the International School in Seville. Most recently he’s led the Church of England's Shrinking the Footprint campaign, aimed at cutting 80% of the church's carbon emissions by 2050.

Isabel Carter – Co-Founder of Jubilee 2000, an international movement in over 65 countries advocating a debt-free start to the Millennium for a billion people. In the UK it’s a coalition of over 100 organisations. It’s been attributed to $billions of debt cancellation for developing countries and changed countless lives.

Leonard Cheshire (1917 – 1992), awarded the Victoria Cross as a bomber pilot in the Second World War. He later founded the charity now styled Leonard Cheshire Disability, which provides support to disabled people throughout the world. It is now one of the top 30 British charities

Arts

Ronald Stuart Thomas (R S Thomas) (1913 – 2000), an Anglican Priest, is recognised as one of the leading religious poets of modern Wales. Although, his verse covered a wide range of themes. His writing career spanned 50 years, and he wrote more than 20 volumes of poetry. He will be most remembered as a fervent Welsh patriot and an outspoken campaigner Welsh language and nuclear disarmament.

Harry Secombe (1921 – 2001) was a Welsh entertainer with a talent for comedy and a noted fine tenor singing voice. He is best known for playing Neddie Seagoon, the central character in the BBC radio comedy series The Goon Show (1951–60). He also appeared in musicals and, in his later years, was a prominent presenter of television shows incorporating hymns and other devotional songs.

General Sir Richard Dannatt was in overall command of the British army for the three years from 2006, a period which saw some of the fiercest fighting yet in Afghanistan. He’s best known as the ‘soldier's soldier’ - due his personal campaign to exposed poor pay and conditions in the Army and raising the nations perception of the forces. He made headlines for saying that death is not the end of life, and soldiers need to be spiritually better prepared for war. He’s patron of ‘Help for Heroes’, which he assisted in founding while he was Chief of General Staff.

J. Arthur Rank was a British industrialist and film producer, and founder of the Rank Organisation, now known as The Rank Group Plc. Rank was a devout member of the Methodist Church and in his middle age he taught Sunday School to which he began to show religious films. This practice expanded to other churches and schools and it led to his formation of the Religious Film Society to which he then distributed films that he had also made. His first production was called Mastership.

Rt. Hon Lord John Reith (1889 - 1971) was general manager of the BBC from 1922 and Director General from 1927 to 1938. Under Reith, the BBC initiated the first regular schedule of public TV broadcasts in the world in 1936. His philosophy for broadcasting was for educating the masses.

Graham Greene (1904 – 1991) English novelist, short story writer, playwright, travel writer and critic whose works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a “Catholic novelist” rather than as a “novelist who happened to be Catholic,” Catholic religious themes are at the heart of much of his works.

Malcolm Muggeridge (1903 -1990) was an English journalist, author, media personality, and satirist. During World War II, he was a soldier and a spy. He is credited with popularising Mother Teresa and in his later years became a Catholic and morals campaigner.

Clifford Longley, is a well-known as an author, broadcaster and journalist who has specialised since 1972 in the coverage and analysis of British and international religious affairs, for 25 years on The Times.

Bono, an Irish singer, musician, and humanitarian best known for being the main vocalist of the Dublin-based rock band U2. Bono was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School where he met his future wife, Alison Stewart, and the future members of U2.Bono writes almost all U2 lyrics, often using political, social, and religious themes. During their early years, Bono's lyrics contributed to U2's rebellious and spiritual tone. As the band matured, his lyrics became inspired more by personal experiences shared with members of U2.

J K Rowling, a British novelist, best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies to become the best-selling book series in history and been the basis for a popular series of films, in which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts as well as maintaining creative control by serving as a producer on the final instalment. Rowling conceived the idea for the series on a train trip from Manchester to London in 1990.

Dame Judi Dench is an English film, stage and television actress. She made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Company and played in several of Shakespear’s plays in roles such as Ophelia in Hamlet. Dame Judi was married to actor Michael Williams from 1971 until his death in 2001.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892 - 1973), English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

Dorothy Sayers (1893 – 1957) renowned English crime writer, poet, playwright, essayist, translator and Christian humanist. She is best known for her ‘Lord Peter Wimsey’ mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth. However, Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante's Divine Comedy to be her best work.

Sir John Tavener, prolific British composer, best known for such religious, minimal works as "The Whale", and "Funeral Ikos". It’s said he is perhaps the most prominent Orthodox composer in the Western world today. Sometimes described as a "minimalist", he is a descendant of the English choral composer and organist John Taverner (1495-1545). He brings Orthodox tradition to bear on his own work, and speaks of his music as being "icons in sound."

Sir Cliff Richard, British pop singer, musician, performer, actor, and philanthropist. Sir Cliff has sold more singles in the UK than any other artist. He’s also the only artist to have number one singles in five decades. Cliff has 67 Top 10 hits to his name, beginning with Move it in 1958 and most recently with Thank you for a life time, which peaked at number three.

Graham Kendrick, often called the 'father of modern worship music'. Over the last 30 years, he has written hundreds of worship songs. Together with Roger Forster, Gerald Coates and Lynne Green, he founded March for Jesus.

Sport

Usain Bolt is a Jamaican sprinter and a five-time World and three-time Olympic gold medallist. He is the world record and Olympic record holder in the 100 metres, the 200 metres and (along with his teammates) the 4×100 metres relay. He is the reigning Olympic champion in these three events.

Leaders

Bishop Festo Kivengere (1919-1988) "the Billy Graham of Africa," was a Ugandan Christian leader who faced the wrath of the brutal dictator Idi Amin. Unlike Janni Luwum, who had been killed by Amin, Kivengere and his family fled the country. He returned after Amin's downfall to continue an active ministry until his death by leukaemia in 1988.

Nelson Mandela, black nationalist and the first black president of South Africa (1994–99). A militant anti-apartheid activist who spent 27 years in prison on Robben Island. After his release, his negotiations in the early 1990s with South African Pres. F.W. de Klerk helped end the country’s apartheid system of racial segregation and ushered in a peaceful transition to majority rule. Mandela and de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1993 for their efforts.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (1874 - 1965) Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century, he served as Prime Minister twice (1940–45 and 1951–55). He was a noted statesman and orator, a historian, a writer and an artist. He is the only British prime minister to have received the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was the first person to be made an Honorary Citizen of the United States.

Science

John Polkinghorne is an English theoretical physicist, theologian, writer, and Anglican priest. Polkinghorne helped make one of the breakthroughs that transformed modern physics: the discovery of the quark (an unseen but fundamental constituent of matter). He’s a Knight Commander of the British Empire, a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), and the 2002 recipient of the Templeton Prize. He is founder of the International Society for Science and Religion and of the Society of Ordained Scientists

Sir John Houghton CBE FRS – chairman of the John Ray Initiative, an organisation ‘connecting environment, science and Christianity’. Sir John was Professor of Atmospheric Physics at Oxford University before joining the Meteorological Office as its Director General, and later Chief Executive. In 1988 on the formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he was appointed chairman of its Scientific Assessment working group. The IPCC and Al Gore were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for their efforts in raising awareness about man-made climate change.

Charles H. Dodd,( 1884 – 1973) Congregational minister and Oxford theologian, Dodd is one of the most influential theologians of the twentieth century. A prolific author, his work included exhaustive studies of the parables and a ground-breaking interpretation of the Gospel of John. Perhaps his most original contribution was his concept of "realized eschatology," the view that the kingdom of God is not some future event, but has already been ushered in by Christ.

Academia

Eric Mascall (1905 - 1993) dubbed one of the great luminaries of English Anglo-Catholicism in the Twentieth Century. Mascall was a leading theologian and academic, with most of the works in his forty years of writing published under the name of E. L.Mascall. Upon retirement he was appointed Canon Theologian of Truro Cathedral.

John A. T. Robinson (1919 – 1983) was an New Testament scholar who served as Bishop of Woolwich, England and as Dean of Trinity College, University of Cambridge. Along with Harvard theologian Harvey Cox, he spearheaded the field of secular theology and, like William Barclay; he was a believer in universal salvation.

NT Wright, is an Anglican bishop and a leading New Testament scholar. He is published as N. T. Wright when writing academic work, or Tom Wright when writing for a more popular readership. His books include What St Paul Really Said and Simply Christian. Wright was the Bishop of Durham in the Church of England from 2003 until his retirement in 2010.

Gordon J. Wenham is a renowned old Testament scholar and author of several commentaries. Professor of Old Testament at University of Gloucestershire and now lecturer at Trinity College.

Lesslie Newbigin (1909 - 1998) was ordained by the Presbytery of Edinburgh to work as a Church of Scotland missionary at the Madras Mission. Leaving for India in 1936, he spent 40 years there, and became the Bishop of Madras. He was General Secretary of the International Missionary Council, overseeing its integration with the World Council of Churches, of which he became Associate General Secretary.

Business

Rupert Murdoch, the founder and Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, the world's second-largest media conglomerate. Back in ’92 he described himself as a practicing Christian, ‘I go to church quite a bit but not every Sunday and I tend to go to Catholic church -- because my wife is Catholic.’ He was made a Knight Commander of St. Gregory in 1998, after being recommended for the honour by Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles after giving money to a Church education fund. A year later he also donated $10 million to help build Los Angeles’ new Catholic cathedral.

Sir John William Laing (1879–1978) – gave his construction company its evangelical direction, which included pioneering ideas that nurtured staff, such as paid holidays and annual outings. When the company was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1909, he made a pledge to God: for every pound he earned, a significant percentage would be given away to charity. He stuck to this — when he died his possessions were valued at £371, despite the millions his family had made

Politics

Ian Paisley (Lord Bannside) is a politician and former church minister from Northern Ireland. He was a founding member and Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster. Paisley, who is 85, stood down as first minister in 2008 and ended 60 years of full-time ministry in January 2012.

Tony Blair at 43 years old became the youngest Prime Minister (May 1997 to June 2007) since Lord Liverpool in 1812. He launched the Tony Blair Faith Foundation as a vehicle for encouraging different faiths to join together in promoting respect and understanding, as well as working to tackle poverty.

Baroness Margaret Thatcher – is a British Conservative politician and the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century – the only woman ever to have held the post (1979-1990). She earned the nickname ‘The Iron Lady’ for her uncompromising opposition to Soviet foreign policy.

Dame Shirley Williams – British politician and academic. Originally a Labour Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, she was one of the so-called ‘gang of four’ who founded the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981. From 2001-2004, she served as Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.

The Lord Pakenham, aka Francis Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford (1905 - 2001), was a British politician, author, and social reformer. He was a founding member of New Bridge, an organisation aiming to help prisoners stay in touch with, and integrate back into society. He was also a leading figure in the Nationwide Festival of Light (1971) which protested against the commercial exploitation of sex and violence in Britain. He was a staunch advocate of the teaching of Christ as the key to recovering moral stability in the nation.

Mary Whitehouse, CBE (1910 - 2001) best known for her opposition to social liberalism - she became a public figure via the 'Clean-Up TV' pressure group, established in 1964, and was a leading figure in the Nationwide Festival of Light which protested against the commercial exploitation of sex and violence in Britain. She was the founder and first president of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association which campaigns against the publication and broadcast of media content that it views as harmful and offensive, such as violence, profanity, sex, homosexuality and blasphemy

Youth

Steve Chalke, is an ordained Baptist minister who is a prominent, and often outspoken, social activist. He’s an author as well as a regular presenter and contributor on television and radio programmes. He founded the Oasis Trust in order to open a hostel for homeless young people, and in 2004 he was awarded an MBE for his services to social inclusion.

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