Obituary: John Maitland Moir, 88

Father John Maitland Moir

Father John Maitland Moir

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FATHER John Maitland Moir, the priest who united the Orthodox Church in Edinburgh, has died at the age of 88.

Often spotted riding his bike on the streets of the Capital in his cassock with his long white beard flowing behind him, Father Moir, whose father was the local doctor and whose mother was a member of the lesser aristocracy, was born in Currie on June 18, 1924.

His love of intellectual and spiritual pursuits was founded in his boyhood, when chronic weakness in his knees precluded him from normal boyhood pursuits.

After attending Edinburgh Academy, the years of the Second World War saw him studying Classics at the University of Edinburgh, his knee problems making him unfit for active service.

Upon finishing his Edinburgh course he spent a short time as classics master at Cargilfield School in Perthshire before moving to Oxford to attend classes in classical studies at Christ Church and theological studies at Cuddesdon Theological College, where his interest in Eastern theology was said to have been awakened.

He studied at the Halki Theological Academy in Istanbul in 1950-51 and during this time also travelled around the Holy Land, forging friendships with Eastern churches which lasted the rest of his life.

He was ordained in the Scottish Episcopalian Church on his return to Scotland, and served for 30 years.

He returned to Edinburgh in 1962 as curate in charge of the Edinburgh Parish of St Barnabas and as honorary chaplain at St Mary’s Cathedral. He remained in the Capital for a further five years.

He spent a further 14 years in positions in Moray and Inverness, but during this time began to move closer to the Orthodox Church. In 1981, he resigned from the Diocese of Moray and travelled to Mount Athos, in Macedonia, Greece, where he was received into the Orthodox Church. His next 30 years were spent in faithful service of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain.

After three years in Coventry, he returned to Edinburgh in 1984, where he united the local Slavonic and Greek Orthodox churches into the single Orthodox Community of St Andrew, also introducing English as the common language.

He was also chaplain of the University of Edinburgh, a position he was said to have taken very seriously, though he still found much time to devote to the needy in his parish.

Despite a large inheritance from his parents, he died penniless, having given his money away to others in need.

He died on April 17, the same day an anonymous benefactor secured the purchase of the former Buccleuch Parish Church for the Orthodox Community of St Andrew in Edinburgh, securing Father Moir’s vision.

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