31 March 2011

Geoff Moorgas RIP

I've just learned of the death of an old friend. Geoff Moorgas died on Saturday 26 March 2011, according to a brief message just received from another old friend, Mark Ramsden. Both Geoff and Mark were originally from Durban, and both were recently living near Oxted in Surrey, England.

I first met Geoff when, as a student in Pietermaritzburg, I visited some friends in Durban one weekend and went to a gathering of Durban Anglican Youth (DAY), on 4 August 1963, where young people from parishes all over Durban gathered for a kind of sports day. We first went to a service at St Raphael's Church in Sydenham, which was then one of the High Church parishes of Durban, and it was followed by hockey and soccer matches between the various parishes. Geoff Moorgas was one of the organisers.

I didn't really get to know him until 1969, when I was living in Durban, and, at the urging of Beyers Naudé, had formed some Christian Institute youth groups. Geoff became involved in these, and mentioned at one meeting that he had been asked by a group of young people in the parish of Greenwood Park to help them form a band. He agreed, and helped them to get instruments and became their manager. Then I was asked by the priest at St Columba's, Greenwood Park, to lead a couple of services there while he was on leave. He said they didn't have traditional Anglican Evensong, but had, with the permission of the bishop, "experimental services." I asked if would be ok if the Christian Institute youth groups got involved in planning and leading the services. He agreed, so we got the band youngsters to take part as well, but they were not accomplished musicians and it took a great deal of practising in Geoff's house to get them ready for the service, which was also their first public gig.

One result of the service (which you can read about at Notes from underground: Psychedelic Christian Worship -- thecages if you are interested) was that I got fired by the Anglican bishop of Natal and lost touch with Geoff again for a while when I went to Namibia. Three years later I saw Geoff again, after being deported from Namibia and banned to Durban, but he was then very busy running a shoe factory, so I did not see a great deal of him.

Several years later I heard from Geoff again -- a letter arrived out of the blue, saying that he was in Namibia -- an Anglican priest in Luderitz. He wanted to live a monastic or semi-monastic life, but he suffered from ill-health and went to England, where he lived as a hermit of sorts, and Mark Ramsden, whom I had known from Durban North days, visited him a few times.

It would be good it people who knew Geoff write some of their memories of him as comments.

May his memory be eternal.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails