A Memorial Page for Fr. Michael Harper
It was with sadness that we heard this week of the repose of Fr Michael
Harper. A lover of Dorset he, and his wife Jeanne, visited St Edward's
when they were on holiday in the area, and I was glad to find in him a
true friend, both to Lesley and me, and to St Edwards. Only two months
ago he had resigned as Dean due to continuing ill health.
Fr Michael had had a truly remarkable ministry spanning some fifty years. In the Church of England he was a noted Evangelical, preparing for Ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Between 1955 and 1964 he served a number of curacies but then, arising from his work with the Fountain Trust he became widely known in international charismatic circles, addressing assemblies of hundreds, even thousands of people. For five years, until 1980, he was Hon. Curate of Holy Trinity Church, Hounslow before moving to Haywards Heath where, in 1984, he became a Canon of Chichester Cathedral.
Almost ten years later, Fr Michael resigned his canonry and from the active ministry of the Church of England as a result of developments in that church, having decided to become Orthodox. He was with the first group of priests to be ordained by the then Bishop Gabriel, although at the time he had no parish. He was appointed Dean, a valuable enabling role within the new Deanery. Fr Michael was the link between the parishes and Bishop Gabriel who, even at that time, was in a poor state of health which prevented him taking a fully active part in the new Orthodox Jurisdiction in England.
It was not long before Fr Michael felt the need to form an English speaking Orthodox parish in London. Initially attached to the Arabic speaking Antiochian Cathedral parish in London, he started an English language Liturgy there on Saturday afternoons. This was eventually to become the core of the St Botolph's Parish in the City of London, near Liverpool St. Station. This is now a thriving and expanding community.
Fr Michael was a keen supporter of Orthodox education at all levels, and was in on the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies at Cambridge from the beginning, ten years ago. He was also an initiator of the course "The Way", designed to be used in parishes. This has just come out of its experimental phase, and will soon be available to parishes for their use.
He had also travelled widely both as an Orthodox, and before that. Informing someone of his death, I remarked that he had touched the lives of thousands. "More that that", she said, and it could well be so, particularly taking into account his many books. As a surprise, not least to him, and unscheduled event, Fr Michael was made an Archpriest on the 10th anniversary of the Deanery, a much deserved recognition of his service.
Accompanying him, and working away by his side was always his wife, Jeanne. Hers was a truly supportive yet self-effacing role. She was often to be seen in the kitchen or some such place beavering away and preparing refreshments for whatever the occasion might be. Jeanne has a quiet wisdom of her own. She is a great encourager, and also a highly competent musician. She will miss Fr Michael greatly and we may be sure that the faith and the prayers of her many friends will help to see her through.
Fr Michael reposed on the Feast of the Theophany (The revelation of God). May God bless his own personal Theophany as enters into eternity.
Dear Father Gregory,
We were all deeply saddened for the loss of our beloved Father Michael Harper who fell asleep in Christ yesterday. We relay to you and all members of the Deanery our sincere condolences.
May God Bless his soul and may his memory be eternal.
On behalf of the Council of Management
Antiochian Orthodox Society
Receive all my brotherly consolation for Jeanne, for you and all of the deanery.
God bless him, Memory Eternal
Yours in Christ
F. Marcel Sarkis
Paroisse Orthodoxe Saint Ignace le Théophore ~ Nice ~ France
Archidiocèse du Patriarcat Orthodoxe d'Antioche en Europe Occidentale et Centrale
Reverend Father Gregory!
Dear Khoureyh Jeanne!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
With deep sadness I received the news of the passing away of the our Brother and Very Reverend Archpriest and former Dean Michael Harper. I was blessed to know him personally and know of his love to the Church; he did not hesitate for a minute nor did he save his energy or time to serve our Holy Orthodox Church in the Blessed Deanery of United Kingdom and Ireland. He was indeed a man of God. Memory Eternal!
May the Lord strengthen his gracious wife (the Khouryeh), his family, our brothers and venerable clergy in the Deanery, as well as all the people that knew him through this difficult time.
But our consolation in this sorrow is that Father Michael fell asleep in the Lord on the day of Epiphany; a sign from Heaven that his Blessed life was enlightened with the Light of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ Who provided him with His Heavenly Grace and Love. ..........
Love in Christ!
Exarchos Alexius Chehadeh
Institute for theology and peace
Angie and I are very saddened by Fr. Michael's death and will pray for
his repose. Please extend our condolences to Jeanne, and assure her of
our prayers and thoughts at this time.
Fr. Michael Keiser
Dear Fr Gregory,
Greetings to you and the British Deanery of the Church of Antioch in Christ our Lord!
I am forwarding this letter on behalf of Fr Jack Witbrock, the Antiochian Dean for New Zealand on the occasion of the repose of the Very Reverend, Fr Michael Harper.
There is a number of clergy and parishioners in the New Zealand Deanery who are well acquainted with Fr Michael's work. We are sure that his leadership will be missed by all the British Deanery as it will be by not a few here in New Zealand.
Of the clergy here, Fr Ian has had the good fortune of serving with Fr Michael in London and thoroughly enjoyed the occasional telephone and email contacts he has had with Fr Michael in the past few years.
Please pass on the New Zealand Deanery's condolences to Fr Michael's family and to the parish in London.
Your servant and brother in Christ,
Very Reverend Fr Jack Witbrock
Dean of New Zealand
Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East
Dear Father Gregory,
I am very sad to learn of Father Michael's death. He was a great witness for the Orthodox Faith and his ministry and contribution to its establishment here will prove a great legacy for future generations. Memory Eternal ! Prayers for his repose will be offered in all our British Orthodox Churches for the next 40 days.
Fraternally in XP,
Coptic Orthodox Church
Dear (N) ...
Thank you so much for letting us know of the completely unexpected and shocking and sudden news of the departure for 'the Heavenly altar' of our dear friend, Father Michael Harper.
Our prayers are with you all to whom he now specially ministered and very much with our beloved Jeanne, to whom please convey our love and sympathy and assurance of prayers.
Yours gratefully in Christ's love
+ Simon Barrington-Ward
Assistant Bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Ely and at Cambridge University
Dear Father Gregory,
Christ is in our midst!
I am writing very belatedly to express my condolences on the the death of Fr Michael. I never actually met him, only spoke on the phone. I am sure he will be sadly missed by you all.
May God bless you and all the people of your Deanery.
Fr John Marks
Dean in Britain: Exarchate of parishes of the Russian tradition in Western Europe (Patriarchate of Constantinople)
Appreciation by Charles Whitehead in the "Good News" magazine.
One of the greatest pioneers and servants of the
Charismatic Renewal died in Cambridge on January 6th, 2010 after a short
Michael Harper was ordained a priest of the Church of England in 1956, and experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit in 1962, speaking in tongues the following year. In 1964 he established The Fountain Trust to further renewal in the power of the Holy Spirit for Christians throughout the body of Christ. He started Renewal Magazine and was a prolific author, as he travelled the world serving renewal within the Anglican Communion and promoting ecumenical relations.
I first met Michael Harper in 1983. We became friends, and from that time on I worked with him in a number of committees and in the organisation of a variety of international ecumenical events. In 1999 he invited me to succeed him as the chairman of ICCOWE, the International Charismatic Consultation on World Evangelisation, today abbreviated to ICC. We remained in regular contact over succeeding years, and at the time of his death he was still a Trustee of ICC and planning to attend our February Executive meeting, where his wisdom and advice would have been as much appreciated as ever. His experience of the worldwide Charismatic renewal was second to none, and he will be hugely missed by many, many people. He was prophetic, visionary, dynamic, challenging, and entertaining, but he always had time for the individual who wanted to seek his advice or receive ministry from him. Underneath the determined exterior and the incisive mind, beat a loving and caring pastoral heart. He never tired of proclaiming the good news of the Gospel wherever he was, and his books on renewal, healing, and growth have affected the lives of countless readers. It is difficult to realise the impact he had without seeing how many remarkable organisations and events he had the vision and courage to start up.
After leaving The Fountain Trust in 1975, Michael Harper became a key leader in the worldwide Charismatic Renewal. He initiated a charismatic conference for Anglicans alongside the Lambeth Conference of July 1978, and in 1981 formed SOMA (Sharing of Ministries Abroad) to share the grace of renewal with the Anglican Church all over the world. His ecumenical work was no less significant, and in the early 1970s he founded the UK Charismatic Leaders' Conference which brought together leaders from many church traditions and backgrounds, including the new charismatic independent churches. His ecumenical sympathies found further expression through both the European Charismatic Consultation and ICCOWE (later becoming ICC) which he founded with Fr. Tom Forrest and Rev. Larry Christenson in 1989. He had initiated and chaired ACTS 86, the European charismatic conference held in Birmingham, and similar international ecumenical charismatic gatherings in Berne (1990), Brighton (1991), Malaysia (1994 and 2000), and Prague (1997 and 2000).
In March 1995, deeply upset by the ordination of women in the Church of England, he joined the Orthodox Church, and was soon ordained a priest, becoming Dean of the new Antiochian Orthodox Deanery for the United Kingdom and Ireland, which under his loving and dynamic leadership now numbers more than twenty parishes. In all his work he was wonderfully encouraged and supported by his wife Jeanne, who joined him in his pilgrimage to the Orthodox Church.
In a recent interview, Michael stated "I'm as charismatic as ever", and as we sat in his funeral service at St. George's Orthodox Cathedral, London, I felt privileged to have been his friend for 27 years, and to have been blessed by his wisdom, insights, and challenges on so many occasions. Certainly Fr. Michael Harper was a giant of the worldwide Charismatic Renewal, and whilst we rejoice in all that he was and did, we are just beginning to realise how much we are going to miss him.