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Featuring Marcus Braybrooke

By Paul Chaffee


The Reverend Doctor Marcus Braybrooke has aptly been called the dean of interfaith historians. He has travelled hundreds of thousands of miles attending interfaith events for half a century. His work mining the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago and the subsequent evolution of the Parliament of the World’s Religions is where the student of interfaith history must begin.  Amazon’s Marcus Braybrooke Page, which lists 37 of his books, introduces him this way: “Marcus Braybrooke is an Anglican priest, an interfaith activist and author. He is President of the World Congress of Faiths, Co-Founder of the Three Faiths Forum, and a Peace Councilor.”

Marcus and Mary Braybroooke with their beloved poodle Toffy. – Photo: Oxford Mail

Marcus and Mary Braybroooke with their beloved poodle Toffy. – Photo: Oxford Mail

Not often noticed is the fact that Braybrooke’s vast interfaith career has been an extension of his ministry as “an Anglican priest.” Not primarily an academic, not a religious hierarch, not getting paid for it, but the extended ministry of a parish priest who leads worship, preaches, and pastors his local flock near Oxford, except when he travels to interfaith gatherings. Understanding this ministerial context opens you up to Marcus’s remarkable bibliography and makes clear what an extraordinary gift he has provided all of us in today’s growing interreligious context.

There is plenty of history, to be sure. But along with the details of a century of interfaith history (see Pilgrimage of Hope – One Hundred Years of Global Interfaith DialogueandWidening Vision) come numerous books on prayer and interfaith worship; books about approaching and interacting with traditions other than your own; and about interfaith/intrafaith peacemaking. A personal favorite is Beacons of Light: One Hundred Holy People Who have Shaped the Spiritual History of Humanity, short, vivid biographies of global religious/spiritual movers and shakers since the dawn of time, adding a compelling human dimension to the history of world religion.

Mary Braybrooke, as a Unitarian teenager, grew up enjoying interfaith prayer services long before meeting Marcus and his interfaith preoccupation. Together they have generated a powerful partnership in their interfaith ministry. Back in the day he did most of the travelling as she pursued a 50-year social service vocation, working with trouble individuals including prostitutes, drug abusers, gang members, and kidney recipients, work she considered a “blessing.” She also served for years as a local magistrate in Oxford.

The Braybrooke contribution to pursuing a healthy, vital global interfaith culture is immeasurable, and through the magic of digital communications the resources they’ve created are available with a few computer clicks. A wonderful introduction to his books can be found on Marcus’ own website. Currently that includes a revised Widening Vision, bringing his interfaith history up to date, including the 80th year celebration of the World Congress of Faiths this year, where he serves as president.

Marcus Braybrooke has contributed 34 articles to TIO in the past five years, a huge blessing to us all. You’ll find them listed (with links) in the box to your left. This month we are featuring nine of them, concluding with a delicious article by Ruth Broyde Sharone titled “High Tea with Marcus and Mary.”

Marcus Braybrooke’s TIO Contributions