Four people from the Diocese of York were amongst Christians from Africa, the Far East and the rest of the UK who received the 2018 Lambeth Awards, presented by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace in April.

Among the recipients were Canon Dr Paula Gooder, who was recognised for her biblical scholarship and shining example of service to the Church of England. Canon Grace Kaiso received an award for his service to the Anglican Communion, including his remarkable leadership on conflict resolution and peacebuilding in Africa. The Revd Dr John L Bell was recognised for his outstanding Christian witness through hymn-writing, broadcasting and social action. Two Muslim leaders also received awards, including Imam Mohammed Mahmoud, who was recognised for his “courageous and selfless intervention” to prevent violence against a driver who had run down worshippers near a mosque in Finsbury Park.

In total 30 awards were given to people from across the Church who have given extraordinary service in fields including conflict resolution, education, worship, journalism and evangelism.

The Lambeth Awards, launched by Archbishop Justin Welby in 2016, recognise outstanding service in different fields, including those of the Archbishop’s ministry priorities of prayer and the Religious life; reconciliation and peacebuilding; and evangelism and witness.

Speaking at the ceremony, Archbishop Welby said he wished to express the thanks of the Church and the wider community for the recipients’ outstanding contributions in their fields.

He added that he hoped the world at large will “see what these people have done and understand that, in their different fields, they show forth values which are our values, Gospel values of love for humanity, reconciliation and selfless service; and, more widely, values common to all people of good will.”

The four recipients from York Diocese were as follows:

The Revd Elizabeth Baxter MPhil - The Langton Award for Community Service, for developing the counselling, healing and inclusion of those marginalised by the Church and for theological study of feminist theology, sexual identity and of related abuse, using this to provide the Church with improved understanding and inclusive liturgies. Beginning at St Margaret's and All Hallows (Leeds), Elizabeth Baxter, together with her late husband Stanley, went on to develop the Centre for Health and Pastoral Care at Holy Rood House (Thirsk) in 1993. Here she has established a safe place where those who are stressed or distressed - especially women who have suffered abuse - can find inner calm and peace, finding support from creative arts and therapies, counselling and spiritual accompaniment on their inner spiritual journey. She has awakened the churches to the needs of those who feel excluded or on its margins. A person of vision, energy and enthusiasm, empowering and believing in people's potential, she has inspired vocations in others, making connections between people with important gifts. She has composed inclusive liturgies that foster healing and belonging, choreographing creative ideas and rites of passage for both formal and informal services. Alongside this, she and Stanley developed the Centre for the Study of Theology and Health, with retreats, seminars, conferences, research days and accredited training for professionals. Arising from personal experience, she has developed a theology of the hospitality of God with passionate and radical beliefs underpinning her development of Holy Rood House. She has also pioneered an 'Ecology of Health' and related healing within the wider context of justice and peace. She has drawn together 'Companions' who, having benefited from and contributed to Holy Rood House, offer prayer and support for this innovative ministry. It is remarkable what Elizabeth's enthusiasm has achieved with limited resources.

Mrs Heather Black - The Langton Award for Community Service, for her transforming effect on the Church’s community involvement across Middlesbrough. In 2004 Heather Black and her family moved from Hull to Middlesbrough when her husband Dominic was appointed Vicar of North Ormesby — the parish that ranks second most deprived nationally in the Church Urban Fund’s list of 12,599 parishes. She was the leading figure in the early work of co-ordinating the churches’ community involvement in Middlesbrough. She organised effective conferences, drawing together an ecumenical grouping of churches, the local authority, statutory and voluntary agencies, and Teesside University to ask how issues of poverty and social justice could be addressed. From that time onward, trust and understanding have grown, and churches that had previously been unwilling to collaborate have re-focused their efforts. There has been a steady development in the local authority’s readiness to work with churches, overcoming earlier caution about their motives. This would not have happened without the work and influence of Heather Black, who was the natural choice to be appointed as the first Development Worker for Together Middlesbrough & Cleveland (TM&C), the joint venture between the Diocese of York and the Church Urban Fund. She has brought energy and vision, she is a natural networker and has an eye for strategic possibilities. She speaks easily and naturally of how her personal faith inspires her, and she has visited deanery synods and other bodies in the area to explain the theological and missional basis of TM&C’s work. There was no surprise that Heather topped the poll in the diocese for election to General Synod in 2015. Her contribution continues to be outstanding.

Professor Tom McLeish FRS - Lanfranc Award for Education and Scholarship, for his record as one of the most outstanding scientists of his generation, and the leading contemporary lay Anglican voice in the dialogue of science and faith. Tom McLeish, Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of York, chairs the Royal Society’s education committee. He has won several awards in both Europe and the USA for his work on molecular rheology of polymers. He has published in macromolecular biological physics and extensively in issues of theology, ethics and the history of science. He has published over 180 scientific papers and reviews, and is regularly involved in science-communication with the public, including lectures and workshops on science and faith. In 2014 OUP published his book Faith and Wisdom in Science and in 2016 with David Hutchings he published Let there be Science. He has been a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993, in the dioceses of Ripon and York. He is a rare polymath who sees Christian theology as foundational for the exploration of interdisciplinary work. He has been a key leader in the Ordered Universe Project (a collaboration between the universities of Durham, Oxford and York), reexamining scientific thinking in the 12th-14th centuries, producing new insights into the vital but overlooked foundations of modern science. He continues to look at the theological expression of ancient proto-scientific thinking, and has brought long-lived Christian narratives to bear on current issues in science and technology. This academic work has always been shared extensively in the public square in lectures in schools and churches, broadcasting in television and radio, and on the web. He has led with David Wilkinson and Bishop Richard Cheetham the highly influential project Equipping Christian Leaders in an Age of Science (supported by the Templeton World Charities Foundation).

The Revd Canon Roger Simpson, Archbishop of York’s Evangelist to the North – The Alphege Award for Evangelism and Witness, for his outstanding record as an evangelist both in the UK and beyond. Roger Simpson, as self-deprecating as he is irrepressible, and a compulsive truth-teller, admits “I’m no good at evangelism really – I just like to have a go”. This is, nevertheless, a ministry that he has exercised faithfully and fruitfully in a very wide range of contexts, a ministry in which these days he prefers to encourage young evangelists. After a curacy with John Stott at All Souls Langham Place, Roger and his wife Ursula – a formidable partnership in the Gospel – went on to parishes in Edinburgh, Vancouver, and York, before becoming the Archbishop of York’s evangelist in the north in 2010. In this itinerant role he has helped parishes and groups of churches across the north to plan missions. He always likes to bring new Christians with him, giving them opportunities to share their testimony and gain confidence as witnesses to Christ and the Gospel. In his work for the Archbishop of York he has been a key player in developing a programme of conferences and other events under the name, ‘Towards the Re-evangelisation of the North’, which significantly led to the Northern Bishops’ retreat on Lindisfarne, which in turn began the present series of Northern Bishops’ Diocesan Missions. Reluctant to be drawn into controversies which might detract from the work of the Gospel, Roger has worked readily with a wide range of churches and churchmanship, always preferring the context where there was ‘low hanging fruit’ because Christians of different traditions had been meeting regularly to pray. The outstanding results speak for themselves, as he will not.