Andrew Francis spent his childhood in Scotland then Manchester, his teenage years and early working life in Birmingham, in both engineering and with ACAS. Whist still at grammar school, he worked at weekends and school holidays for a zoo-vet as an animal wrangler, whilst also becoming involved in DJ-ing and broadcasting via hospital radio. He also “made up the numbers” in various folk bands.
Following seminary training and University studies in theology, he worked as an United Reformed Church Minister successively in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Kent and Wiltshire During those years, he accepted secondments as a denominational training officer, locum hospital chaplain, BBC Religious Programmes regional editor and as Development Worker for the UK’s Anabaptist Network. He has also lived in France, overseeing the development of a retreat house.
Whilst serving as a URC Minister, he undertook short ministerial assignments in both Scandinavia and the Netherlands, also taking church and/or student groups to Taizé (France), the Oberammergau Passion Play (Germany), Iona, Israel, Italy, Santiago de Compostela (Spain) as well as the Glastonbury, Greenbelt and Roskilde (Denmark) festivals. He holds a Masters degree [MTh] in the theology of radical Christian communities and his Princeton (USA) doctorate [DMin] specialised in how some of those communities used shared meals.
Following early retirement in 2008 (because of a now-regulated chronic heart condition), he was able to devote much more time to writing and conference speaking [See Work]. He has worked pro bono for a regional charity advisory unit, particularly in the field of governance as he still chairs/serves on statutory and voluntary panels. He resumed work as a performance poet, both publicly and for private functions, and as an independent celebrant for ‘handfastings’ (weddings), family celebrations and thanksgivings (funerals) in a variety of settings (e.g. eco-woodlands). He continues to lead Christian worship and preach within orthodox denominational congregations.
Although over the years, he has exhibited his own paintings and sold his hand-thrown pottery, now he only occasionally paints small works as gifts for friends. Having been the worst bass player “ever” in his College jazz combo, he now plays guitar only for his private enjoyment – and the flute even more occasionally! A passionate supporter of wildlife conservation, he has visited over 150 zoos worldwide – the book will follow “one day…” He is still an allotmenteer and vegetable grower, chutney maker, home baker and joyful cook. He is a member of the Green Party, the Poetry Society and the National Trust, a life member of the Cat Survival Trust (preserving wild feline species) and a Life-Friend of Swindon Art Gallery.
Heavily influenced by his faith, radical politics, music, art and literature, he lists his favourite painters as the Newlyn school, his favourite writers as Lawrence Durrell, Geert Mak, Iris Murdoch and John Steinbeck, and his favourite poets as Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Ted Hughes and George Mackay Brown. Musically, he listens to “loads of” Caravan, Nick Drake, Elgar, Focus, Grieg, Diana Krall, Jethro Tull, John Martyn, Joni Mitchell, Pink Floyd, Sibelius and Sigur Ros. Politically, his vision is forged by the Diggers, Peter Kropotkin, Gandhi, Wendell Berry, Schumacher-styled economists, both eco-feminist and Mennonite theologians, the ‘green movement’ as well as the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth.