Collins…married Diana Kimpton, an actress, in 1955. They had met at a London rally held by the American evangelist Billy Graham. She would put on drama productions in church, as Collins moved away from traditional pulpit preaching, and also train Collins’s curates in public speaking. She died in 2013. He is survived by their children, Dominic and Richenda.
From 1971 Collins served at the semi-rural parish of Canford Magna in Dorset, but led regular missions to London, including the “Leap Step Forward” campaign at HTB, which planted the seeds of its rebirth as a Charismatic evangelical church.
Collins invented what he called the “evangelistic supper party” at which members of his community were encouraged to overcome their qualms, invite friends to dinner and hold discussions about the meaning of life over a glass of wine. It became a highly effective method of evangelising to the chattering classes of Kensington and its affluent surrounds. The suppers were a vital part of the introduction to Christianity course, Alpha, which had been launched at HTB in 1977 and would grow into a global phenomenon.
When he was due to leave HTB in 1985, he made the unusual step for a senior clergyman of staying on for five years as an assistant curate to ensure continuity of mission, while graciously ceding authority to the new vicar, Sandy Miller. At the same time he served as area dean of Chelsea and Prebendary of St Paul’s Cathedral. After Collins’s retirement in 1990, his work would be continued by Nicky and Pippa Gumbel.
He continued to study the Bible in Greek. Aptly, his favourite verse remained “Rejoice in the Lord Always” (Philippians, iv, 4). Ironically, for a man some deemed responsible for tambourines in church, Collins was an accomplished classical organist who played every day until the end of his life.
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The Rev John Collins obituaryhttps://t.co/gZ31j5v9OV
— Nicky Gumbel (@nickygumbel) February 4, 2023