Watching the William Wilberforce/John Newton film Amazing Grace at a home group around the day the church remembers William Wilberforce (30 July) encouraged Michael Berry, then vicar at St Philip’s in St Heliers, Auckland, New Zealand, to use some of the themes in the Sunday sermon at church on Sunday 2 August 2009.
Hearing him prompted me to look back at some â€˜John Newtonâ€™ photos I took a while back.
Robin Meredith-Jones, actor & friend, has for many years been doing a show base on John Newton, also (inevitably) called â€˜Amazing Graceâ€™. On the 200 anniversary of John Newtonâ€™s â€˜promotion to gloryâ€™ on 21 December 1807, Robin and his wife Christine Way did a version of the show in the London City church of St Maryâ€™s Woolnoth, where John Newton was vicar for 28 years.
Most people know that Newton was involved in the slave trade – though not all are aware that Newton was himself a white slave briefly early on, after an altercation with a the captain of a slave ship he was crewing on.
What is well documented is John Newtonâ€™s conversion to the Christian faith, and his penning of the famous hymn Amazing Grace.