Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I heard from a friend that Father Michael Harper died on the Feast of the Theophany (Jan. 6 i.e. Western "Epiphany"). He began his ecclesial life as an evangelical. It was while he was a curate at All Souls' Langham Place that he underwent his pentecostal experience of the Holy Spirit. Subsequently he became an early pioneer of charismatic renewal in the U.K., and, indeed, around the world.

I first met Father Michael during his initial visit to Australia when I was a student. He came as a speaker to our ecumenical prayer group at the University of Sydney. Subsequently, when I was Dean of Vision College (part of The Temple Trust which organised the large charismatic renewal conferences around Australia through the 1970s), I observed "close up" in Fr Michael a truly humble man of the utmost integrity with a deep reality in his walk with God. His friendships traversed the breadth of Christian traditions, and he triggered off many vocations to ministry in all of them!

His advice to us back then was to try to integrate ALL of what the Father has revealed in Christ through the Holy Spirit. This included Church and sacraments, local and real expressions of Christian community, and a concern for the sanctified life . . . that is, not just the "charismatic gifts." So, given the disintegration of the Anglican Way, I was not surprised by Father Michael's eventual journey to Orthodoxy. His crisis of faith in the Church of England over the ordination of women and related issues is told in his book, Equal and Different. His embracing of the East in the context of his previous life and ministry is movingly recounted in The True Light. (All told, he wrote eighteen books.)

At the time of my consecration in 2005 I received an encouraging note from him.

Until recently, Father Michael was the Dean of the Antiochian Deanery of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and pastor of St. Botolph Antiochian Orthodox Church in London. He was also one of the founding directors of the The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies Cambridge. His passion to proclaim the good news of God made manifest in Christ propelled him throughout his life. Indeed, one of the last things he did in public in late November - against rising ill-health - was to put down on video the last of three talks he has contributed to the outreach program, The Way, on central aspects of the Orthodox Christian Faith.

I will remember this man with thanksgiving at the altar of God, and pray for Jeanne whose ministry blended so beautifully with his.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Father Michael, and for your love which radiated through him.

Go HERE to read Professor David Frost's announcement of Father Michael's death.

Go HERE to read an article on Father Michael's ministry as Dean of the Antiochian Deanery in Great Britain (written last year to mark his retirement).


Carving Ben said...

Amazing. I am an Orthodox layman who was heavily influenced by the writings of Fr. Michael Harper; I was surfing the web after having been asked to carve a copy of San Damiano's Cross for a REC Church, and came to your blog. There I find half way around the world a eulogy to Fr. Michael Harper. His book A New Way of Living, helped to inspire me to have an 'extended household' for over thirty years. Yes, we yearn for the Unity of the Faith, and love the Church Catholic, and long for the appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, with all the saints, in Glory! ozarkdox@hotmail.com

Subdeacon Cowey said...

Father Michael was my spiritual father. His funeral is today at noon in St George's cathedral and I shall leave shortly for it.

With the saints give rest O Lord to the soul of your worthy archpriest who has fallen asleep.

May his memory be eternal.

Subdeacon Cowey

Steve Hayes said...

Thanks for a good obit of a faithful servant of Christ.

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