The Rev’d Dr John Rawlinson is retiring after 25 years as Chaplain to the Chapel at Churchill College.  In that time, John has conducted baptisms, weddings, and funerals for many members of the College, as well as weekly services during termtimes. 

John’s final service will be the Advent Carol Service, at 17:30 on Sunday 27 November.

During the service, a special composition by alumna Roseanna Dunn will be performed, composed in John’s honour. The Advent Carol Service is open to all who wish to attend.

John and his wife Sally have been a part of the Chapel at Churchill since 1997. Dr Liz DeMarrais, a Chapel Trustee, said, “Over 25 years, the team of John and Sally Rawlinson has been a steady presence in the activities of the Chapel at Churchill College.  From John’s visible ministry to Sally’s kindness and significant contributions behind the scenes, their support of College members and musicians over so many years has meant a lot, to many. I offer my warm thanks to both, as John retires from the chaplaincy.”

During his time at the Chapel, John has been very involved with the choir – now called Inter Alios – and has supported its development. The choir today stands at over 40 members, lead by Churchill’s Director of Music, Dr Ewan Campbell. Dr Mark Miller, now at Durham University, worked on the choir with John during his time at Churchill, and has many fond memories of working with John.

“It takes a certain resilience to be Chaplain to the Chapel at Churchill College, and John has that quality in spades, along with great kindness, generosity and a lovably quirky academic humour.  During his extraordinarily long ministry to the Chapel, John would lavish the same care on a quiet service of prayer attended by three as on a capacity congregation at Advent Carols or the commemoration of a former Master.  Whenever the occasion seemed to demand it, the Chapel was always there and John was always ready. I would also like to pay tribute to Sally’s steadfast dedication.  Her graceful and thoughtful flower arrangements have brought a friendliness to the architectural austerity of the Chapel week after week, and she has inconspicuously supported every activity hosted there.  Sally and John’s hospitality is legendary.  If you are ever invited to the Rawlinsons’ for dinner, I strongly recommend that you accept.”

John was Chaplain in 2017 during the 50th anniversary of the Chapel at Churchill, which was attended by Dr Rowan Williams, sometime Archbishop of Canterbury and then Master of Magdalene College, pictured below. John has provided unwavering support in his role and the trustees and congregation are very grateful for his constancy and service.

The Rev’d Canon Nigel Cooper will be taking the baton from John as the new Chaplain to the Chapel for a period of two years from January. As well as a theologian, Nigel is an environmental scientist with a particular interest in environmental economics.

John Rawlinson with Dr Rowan Williams, flowers by Sally Rawlinson

As we wait to welcome our new Chaplain, we are also looking to the future of the Chapel. After fifty-five years, the Chapel needs extensive conservation repair works, including the replacement of the roof, conversation and protection of the windows, and improvements to the lighting system. Careful maintenance is key to ensuring that the roof retains its weatherproof properties to prevent the deterioration of the building and its contents.

Given the historical significance of John Piper’s stained glass and the cost of lead, these essential conservation repairs, when complete, will total in the region of £149,000. Half of this funding needs to be secured before grant applications can be submitted to repay the loan generously given by the College which enabled the urgent works to start. Any alumni wishing to give to this can use our dedicated donation form for the project.