Norwich ex-bishop who spent 11 years in prison
By Mike Wiltshire
2009: A Norwich
-based former Bishop, who spent 11 years in prison, as well as a spell in the Army in a tank regiment, has decided to finally hang up his dog collar.
At the age of 77, retired bishop Malcolm Menin (pictured right), who has befriended many people in prison, has “decided to call it a day . . . before I become a problem!”
Malcolm felt the call of God to assist with chaplaincy work among the ‘lifers’ in Norwich Prison – as part of his wider responsibilities in the community.
The son of an Anglican minister, he first felt called to the church at the age of 15, but at 21 he had become a Cavalry officer, “happily charging around Salisbury Plain in a tank,” while serving with the 4th Hussars Regiment.
At Oxford University, Malcolm rowed for his college and graduated with first class honours. He met, Jennifer, his wife-to-be, at a parish dance: they fell in love and he sold his precious camera equipment to buy Jennifer an engagement ring.
Today, after 51 years, they have four grown-up children and nine grandchildren.
One of Malcolm’s greatest experiences in the Christian ministry began – of all places – in the bath when he felt called to provide leadership for a struggling Victorian church in Norwich. Eventually he, and his wife Jennifer, served the church – St Mary Magdalene’s – for 24 years. They saw the parish prosper in many ways: two members of the congregation also went on to ordination.
In 1986, Malcolm was ordained Bishop of Knaresborough in Yorkshire, where among other activities, he regularly visited local prisons.
“I’ve found many friendships with prisoners – some have been murderers and sex offenders. But most have been ordinary, nice human beings with a particular problem or issue. Many have been abused and damaged in some way.”
When not serving the community, Malcolm loves working with wood and leather and has become a highly-skilled craftsman. One of his favourite armchairs at his home at Bracondale, Norwich, is made from a converted oak beer barrel.
Malcolm corresponds with prisoners and will miss his visits to the ‘lifers’. “My one theme has always been to show the love of God – he loves us always, however we fail or sin.”
Malcolm also praises the prison staff – “the younger ones are doing a very valuable job as they relate to prisoners in a creative way. Women officers in a men’s prison also make a special contribution.”
Having visited Norwich Prison for 11 years, he hopes that other retired ministers “might be called to serve the chaplaincy in this way.”