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14 November 2014

Prebendary John Good writes:
PREBENDARY Michael Moreton, who died on 25 September, aged 97, was successively Rector and Priest-in-Charge of St Mary Steps in Exeter for more than three decades. He was an example of a priest who accompanied his parishioners on a life-long journey.

His academic discipline and learning, focused in the Department of Theology at Exeter University, was shared with a succession of assistant curates, some, like myself, not especially academically gifted. With patience and gentleness, he encouraged us to continue reading and translating the Greek New Testament; he promoted writing and delivering papers; but is best remembered by my generation for a thorough and painstaking examination and explanation of the documents of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. In this, he was inspiring in defining the spirit of Anglicanism as both Catholic and reformed.

Fr Moreton (never referred to by his Christian name) was critical of liturgical reform - Series 2 and 3, the 1980 Alternative Service Book - for they did not measure up to his understanding of eucharistic theology; yet he never put us down or dismissed our enthusiasm for liturgical change, expansion, and experiment, and passion for lay involvement as it developed. We learned that words matter, and liturgy is the school for a right understanding of the faith.

He was a good pastor, and, like Bishop Robert Mortimer, a man for one-liners: of the priesthood he said "Magnify your Office," and to a young vurate about to be married, "Your wife comes first."

He was our son's godfather, and, without fail, a card would be received every year on the anniversary of his baptism until very recently: a priest who said his prayers. At his requiem, Prebendary Brian Tubbs spoke of his devotion to the eucharist. "He believed it changed things." It was the greatest and best lesson he gave us.

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