My Church Fathers and Mothers

I’ve been thinking lately about the people who have inspired me. This came about when I heard the sad news of the death of John Maitland Moir last week. When I was a teenager growing up in Tollcross, Edinburgh John was a well-kent figure cycling about town on his old black bike in his flowing cassock with long white beard. He was an Episcopal priest who eventually converted to the Orthodox faith in his fifties. (I’m sure at this age he actually looked about 70, or is that just the perception of a young person?) He looked eccentric in his ‘funny’ clothes but he also had the look of a holy man. For a while Fr Gordon Reid of St Michael & All Saints, my home church, allowed Fr John’s Orthodox church to use our side aisle and altar for their services. Then he used a building in George Square near the Meadows, I think. And now the church has grown so much they need a larger building and have just purchased a disused church nearby. A saintly man.

On Thursdays at our midweek service I have been telling the stories of the saints each week in place of a sermon. Some of the saints are well known and others are unknown to most of us. Those often are the most interesting ones! Last week we learned about Isabella Gilmore, Deaconess and had a great discussion about Deacons and Deaconesses and holy women. This week I noticed that the SEC was commemorating Canon Albert Ernest Laurie, late of Old St Paul’s. Canon Laurie is one of those names that is spoken about in reverential tones. Although I’ve never been a member of OSP, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t heard of him even although he died in 1937. He became a Lay Reader at OSP when he was studying theology to finance his studies and was ordained in 1890 and continued to serve his curacy there. When Canon Innes (no relative as far as I know) left Laurie was unanimously elected rector of OSP and remained there for all of his ministry. Imagine never leaving one church for the whole of your working life! Another saintly man, still spoken of reverently, who worked with the poor and had an intense devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He received the Military Cross for his bravery in caring for the wounded at the Battle of the Somme.

RitaSo who are your saintly people? Most of mine are still living so I won’t embarrass them here. But among them are priests, both male and female, conventional and unconventional. There are lay people, eccentric and homely. There are saints in books and whose shrines I have visited and adored. And there are people like Alan Ecclestone whose story I read when at Theological College and would practically have traded in my bible for his autobiography if it had been allowed. And there are many who have been in my little flocks and who serve as models of the faith to me. I still have so much to learn.

So, come on. Who are yours?