Ronald Inchley, Christian publisher, 1912-2005


Ronald Inchley, who died on April 13, aged 93, was one of a small group who played a key part in the development of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship (now UCCF) during its first 50 years.

They were visionaries with a great gift for turning vision into reality. The contribution of RI (as he was always known) was to establish and develop a publishing house (now IVP) that was to have a massive influence in the revival of British evangelicalism and its growth worldwide.

The son of a Birmingham cabinet-maker and one of seven children, RI read English and History at Birmingham University. Soon after graduating in 1936 he was taken on by Douglas Johnson as the IVF?s Publications Secretary, a typically modest title which he held, apart from an interlude for war service, until 1976.

As a Christian publisher RI achieved much for which the wider Christian community can be thankful. He built a truly remarkable list of publications. Some of his earliest titles, such as In understanding be men and Search the Scriptures, are still available. There were Christian classics such as Basic Christianity, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, and Evangelism and the sovereignty of God. There were major reference books such as the New Bible Commentary, the New Bible Dictionary and the Tyndale Commentary series. Before he retired he saw the launch of the Bible Speaks Today series. With the list of books went the discovery of the authors of many of them, a number of whom gratefully acknowledge RI?s help in learning the craft of writing.
For those who worked with him, RI was a fine mentor. We were challenged by his high standards, and sometimes daunted by his example. But we also quickly discovered his godliness, warmth, humour, humility and love for people.

IVF or IVP books became valued resources throughout the English-speaking world and, in translation, far beyond. Similar publishing houses were established in the USA and in a good number of other countries. Their founders, like RI?s successors at home, felt that they stood on the shoulders of a giant. After a trip to Africa, RI played a leading role in establishing the Africa Christian Press. Following his retirement from IVP, he served for five years as the Honorary Administrator of the Evangelical Literature Trust, aiding the distribution of evangelical books to pastors and students in the two-thirds world.

RI?s work with IVP was matched by a fine home-life and an active involvement in his local church. This was seen most notably at Stanmore Baptist Church, where he served for many years as a deacon and the Superintendent of a large Sunday School, and in recent decades at Holmbury St. Mary and Gorsley, Ross-on-Wye. A large congregation met at Gorsley Chapel on April 22 to give thanks for a remarkable servant of God. He is survived by Olive, his wife of 65 years, four sons and many descendants.

Frank Entwistle