Lord Griffiths was born and spent the first years of his life in Wales. He gained his BA, MA and PhD from the universities of Wales, Cambridge and London respectively. After a short teaching career as a university lecturer he became a pastor in a Methodist church, and was ordained in Port au Prince in 1973. After ten years in Haiti, he returned to England and has spent the rest of his ministry in or around London. He is currently the minister of Wesley’s Chapel – “the mother church of world Methodism”. He was President of the Methodist Church of Great Britain in 1994/1995.
Lord Griffiths is the President of the Boys’ Brigade, a youth movement established across the British Isles, and is Chairman of the Trustees of the Central Foundation Schools of London. He received a Life Peerage (Lord Griffiths of Pembrey and Burry Port) in 2004. He sits with the Labour Party in the House of Lords and is active in parliamentary groups relating to world development, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
The foundation of his awareness of, and involvement in, international affairs was laid in the period when he lived in Haiti (1970-1980). As well as his work in the field of formal education, he led various initiatives in such matters as community development, irrigation, clean drinking water, primary healthcare, adult literacy, reforestation and spiritual development. Out of this came two books:The History of Methodism in Haiti (1991) was the development of his doctoral thesis and The Aristide Factor (1996) was a biography of the Roman Catholic Priest Jean Bertrand Aristide who became President of Haiti in 1991.
He has been an observer at various electoral exercises in Haiti’s post-Duvalier period and supervised a team of electoral observers in Cap Haitien in December 1990. After the coup d’état of 1991, he helped to found (and chaired for many years) the Haiti Support Group. He continues to chair a Round Table on Haiti that brings people from various disciplines and fields of work together to discuss affairs in Haiti. His work in the realm of international affairs has taken him to Eritrea, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Cambodia, Fiji, New Zealand and Korea.
Lord Griffiths has been heavily involved in education throughout his career; he has been a governor of a number of schools as well as Chairman of Governors at Southlands College, one of the constituent colleges that form Roehampton University. He currently has direct responsibility for a boys’ school and a girls’ school situated in two of the most deprived boroughs in London.
He has worked with the BBC for a quarter of a century. As well as contributing to their current affairs output, he has been a long-time contributor to its religious output: The Daily Service, Thought for the Day, Pause for Thought and a number of panel discussion programmes. For eight years, he has presented a weekly half hour radio programme for Premier Radio: a London radio station.
Lord Griffiths has written seven books and given a number prestigious lectures, and preached sermons in more than 20 cathedrals. He is a Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral and contributes to its governance. He has been the Lent Select Preacher at Westminster Abbey and present the Holy week sermons at St Albans Abbey in April 2012.
In 1989 he was made a Knight of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. He has honorary fellowships from Sion and Sarum Colleges, University College of Lampeter and the University of Cardiff, and holds honorary doctorates from Oxford Brooks and Evavnsville (Indiana). He is a Freeman of the City of London, has been awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship by the Rotary Club of Great Britain and is also a fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.
He is married to Margaret, a radiographer who is now retired. They have three grown-up married children: Timothy, Jonathan and Ruth, and two grandchildren: Tamealea and Thomas.