My generation missed Chappo.1 I think I heard him preach once, maybe twice. By the time I went through Moore Theological College he was no longer the one giving sermon feedback. Others were the regular evangelists up at the Katoomba conventions when I attended them. I heard a number of his jokes—even I knew of his encouragement of younger Christians with words along the lines of “Don’t worry, the first 40 years are the hardest”—but I heard most of these stories from others who knew him better, or had heard him more often.
And of course now I won’t get the chance to know him this side of glory: in November last year he went to be with Christ at the age of 82.
I do, however, recognize how he stands as something of a giant in the recent history and shape of the Sydney Anglican diocese, and so too further afield. He was so energetic, so funny, so well-travelled across the city and around the world, so persuasive in his call to hear the gospel, repent, and believe, that under God he had great impact on a great many people.
So we’ve decided to devote the lion’s share of the March/April issue of The Briefing to reflecting on Chappo’s legacy in a variety of areas. He had an impact on many people through his ministry in the Armidale diocese in Northern NSW, his quarter-century at the helm of the Sydney Anglican Department of Evangelism, and his itinerant ministry throughout his ‘retirement’. And so for this issue, I’ve asked a few people who knew him well to reflect on what he taught us about evangelism (published here on the site March 4th), preaching (March 11th), writing (March 18th), and theology (March 25th), along with some personal memories and stories.
If you knew and loved him, the articles in the coming weeks will be a pleasant trip down memory lane, as well as a reminder to keep majoring on the same majors as Chappo (to borrow Phillip Jensen’s phrase)—to keep proclaiming our crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ.
If you’re a print subscriber, you should have this issue in your letterbox already. If not, and you want to get everything at once, go to Amazon or the iBooks store2 and grab an eBook version. It doesn’t have the great design work from Joy Lankshear that the print edition does, but it’s got all the same words. (Issues 400-403 are also available in eBook form.)
For those like me who missed him, or those outside of the Sydney scene altogether who don’t know much of who Chappo was and what his impact was, allow us to demonstrate a little bit of our shared DNA. After all, The Briefing stands in the same evangelical heritage as Chappo.
We trust that it will only be “a little while” of suffering (1 Pet 5:10) until we see Chappo, and—as he would have urged us to remember as a much more important truth—until with Chappo we see Christ and are restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established by the God of all grace.
- That’s John Chapman, by the way. For non-Australian readers, an abbreviated nickname, especially one ending in ‘o’, is a mark of friendship and warm regard. That he was known almost universally as ‘Chappo’ speaks to how many people thought highly of and cared deeply for this man. ↩
- The iBooks version will be available as soon as Apple have taken their time checking it over, which could be any time in the next fortnight. The delay means that it will be edifying for at least one Apple employee though. ↩