If you got to this page, it may have been because you were curious to know more about me, or you may have arrived here by accident - in which case, if you aren't curious, or find this kind of thing boring, click on the eject button to get out of here now! This page is really only for the insatiably curious.
I was born in Durban, South Africa on 13th April 1941, which happened to be Pascha (Easter) by the Western reckoning. My 11th birthday was also on Western Easter (Wester?), and my birthday will probably not fall on that day again in my lifetime. Actually the next time will be 2031, which would be my 90th birthday, and is one of the days when Pascha and Western Easter coincide.
My parents, Frank and Ella Hayes, were atheists/agnostics, but for some reason had me baptised in St Thomas's Anglican Church in Durban. We lived at Westville, near Durban, till I was 7, and I went to a kindergarten school and Westville Government School to Standard 1.
We moved to a small holding in Sunningdale, which was near Johannesburg, in 1948. I went to Fairmount Government School, and then to Mountain Lodge Preparatory School - a private school in Magaliesberg. It was a free-enterprise for-profit outfit, and closed when the owner, a Mr Burnford, absconded with the funds, leaving the debts.
So it was that at the age of 11 I went to St Stithian's College, a Methodist School that had just opened in what is now Randburg. I was there for 6 years, and finished in 1958. As it was a church school, it had several Christian teachers, and as a result of the influence of two of them in particular - Steyn Krige and Derrick Hudson-Reed, I decided that I wanted to be a Christian. I had always suspected that in taking me to be baptised as an infant my parents had in fact signed a blank cheque with God. As they didn't believe in God, they didn't think it would be cashed. But it seemed to me, at the age of 12-13, that God was coming to cash the cheque.
I went to Wits University in 1959 after leaving school, and started studying for a BA degree. On the (bad) advice of a school teacher I took Latin and Greek, and failed them both - twice. I was a slow learner. But even if I was slow to realise that the classics weren't for me, the authorities of Wits caught on to that, and wouldn't let me back.
In 1959 I was also confirmed in the Anglican Church, and became involved in the parish of St Augustine's, Orange Grove, and its chapelry of St Nicholas, Sandringham. It had an active youth group, which was a branch of the Anglican Young People's Association (AYPA). The AYPA functioned at both a parish and diocesan leval. Not all parishes had branches, but many did, and when people from different branches got together, they managed to perforate the barriers of the apartheid society, which was being strengthened at that time.
The Anglican Diocese of Johannesburg distributed posters to parishes to be put on the church notice boards just before Good Friday, 1959. Many parishes put them up, but the St Augustine;s AYPA thought the message was too important to be hidden away in Anglican church porches, and on Maundy Thursday night several members travelled round the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, putting them in as many visible places as possible, especially near churches. Many peopel wrote to the newspapers the following week, complaining that the posters had disturbed their devotions.
Since I was not allowed to return to Wits University after failing Latin and Greek the second time, I decided to fulfil a childhood ambition to be a trolley bus driver, but I was too young for that, and joined the Johannesburg Transport Department as a bus conductor instead. I joined in February 1961, about a fortnight before the last trams ran, so I suppose I have the distinction of being the last tram conductor. As soon as I turned 21 I went to the driving school and got to drive trolley buses.
After a couple of years I had saved enough money to go back to university, this time to the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg, where I majored in Biblical Studies and Theology, and lived a kind of triangular life between academic study, political meetings and worship at St Alphege's Anglican Church. There's more about that on my literary pilgrimage page.
I was at UNP from 1963-1965, and the Anglican bishop of Natal, Vernon Inman, accepted me as a candidate for ordination, and arranged for me to continue my theological studies at St Chad's College, Durham. I skipped the country one jump ahead of the SB, and spent the first half of 1966 driving buses for London Transport, and went to Durham at the end of September.
Most of what I learned at Durham was outside the classroom, and the most valuable experience of my time overseas was attending a course in Orthodox theology for non-Orthodox theological students at the World Council of Churches study centre in Bossey, Switzerland, and attending the Holy Week and Pascha services at St Sergius, Paris.
I returned to South Africa in July 1968, having completed the Diploma in Theology at Durham. I was ordained an Anglican deacon at the end of the year, and sent by the bishop to be assistant chaplain at the Missions to Seamen. I would rather have been just about anywhere else than there. The bishop sacked me 6 months later, after I had been involved in running what the press called a "psychedelic service" with a youth group of an ecumenical organisation called the Christian Institute.
I nearly joined the Orthodox Church, then, but a friend, David de Beer, who was working for the Anglican Church in Namibia, invited me to go there. The bishop there, Colin Winter, said he had no money to pay me, but I could be a worker deacon there, so I went. I got a job with the Department of Water Affairs reading the gauges on wells and rivers, but was fired after a month. I was not told the reason, but the boss had some press cuttings about my association with the Christian Institute, so I presumed it was for that. I then got a job as a proof reader with the Windhoek Advertiser, the local English daily newspaper.
An American priest, Ronald Gestwicki, had spent some time trying to provide theological training for some Herero independent churches, the Oruuano Church and the Church of Africa, and I tried to pick up where he left off, and became interested in the idea of Theological Education by Extension (TEE), not only for training people for ministry in the independent churches, but also in the Anglican church in Namibia.
In February 1972 I was deported from Namibia, along with bishop Winter, David de Beer, and Toni Halberstadt, another South African friend who had come to teach in a church school there. I went to an Anglican education conference in Natal, and found some others interested in TEE, and spent the next six months travelling around South Africa at my own expense, living off my savings and sponging off my relatives, trying to promote the idea of TEE. David de Beer and I went to see the then Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Robert Selby Taylor, and I explained what I had in mind, and he seemed very bored and non-committal, but Dave, who knew him better, told me afterwards that he had never before seen him exhibit such enthusiasm for anything.
The Christian Institute had spent enormous sums of money from overseas donors trying to start a TEE scheme for the independent churches, but after a couple of visits to the director, a guy called Maqina, I was convinced that they would achieve nothing soon. John Aitchison of Pietermaritzburg, Richard Kraft of Zululand and I thought of the Golux in James Thurber's story of The thirteen clocks, who said "If you can touch the clocks and never start them, you can start the clocks and never touch them, that's logic as I know and use it". We decided, using the logic of the Golux (the only Golux in all the world, and not a mere device) that if they could spend half a million Rand and not produce a theological course, we could produce a theological course and not spend half a million Rand. Unfortunately we reckoned without the Security Police, who banned me. John Aitchison was already banned, so I was not allowed to communicate with him, on pain of imprisonment, and Rich Kraft was in Zululand, where neither of us was allowed to travel.
Nonetheless, the Khanya Theological Correspondence Course produced a (highly illegal) course on the book of Amos. But the difficulties proved too much, and eventually it was amalgamated with two other similar ventures to become the TEE College of Southern Africa, which is still operating, with over 1200 students.
In July 1972 I became acting rector of the Parish of Queensburgh, which was within the magisterial district of Durban, where my banning orders confined me, while the rector, Vernon Muller, was overseas. But the Lord must have known what he was doing, because if I hadn't been banned, I wouldn't have met Val Greene, and we wouldn't have been married in 1974.
When Vernon Muller returned from overseas, I went to St Martin's in Durban North as assistant priest for a couple of years. My ban was lifted in 1976, and Val and I went to Utrecht in the Anglican diocese of Zululand, where there had not been a resident priest for the last 30 years. A fortnight after we arrived, half the parishioners were removed to Madadeni, outside the diocese and outside the parish, under the apartheid policy of removing "black spots" in "white areas".
Our daughter Bridget was born while we were there, but after a year we were asked to move to Melmoth, as Rich Kraft, who had been diocesan director of education, was moving to Johannesburg, and the bishop, Lawrence Zulu, wanted me to replace him in training self-supporting clergy, and in post-ordination training of church supported clergy. Another priest, Peter Biyela, took over the lay training aspect of Rich Kraft's work.
We were in Melmoth for over 5 years, which seemed like a long time. The self-supporting clergy training was the most interesting part of the work there - training meetings were held on one weekend a month at the diocesan conference centre at KwaNzimela nearby, and there was an annual 10-day meeting. There were about 20-25 students, some who had not passed standard 5, and others with degrees. There were shopkeepers, factory workers, farmers, game rangers, teachers, a baker and a civil engineer. For the academic side of their courses they registered for the courses of the TEE College (mentioned earlier) or with the University of South Africa. At the same time as tutoring others, I was also taking courses at the University of South Africa, in Missiology and Church History.
In 1983 I was asked to go to Pretoria, to be director of mission and evangelism for the Anglican diocese there. After three years I resigned, and we tried to join the Orthodox Church, which, however, proved difficult, as there was a great deal of prejudice against non-Greeks. Eventually we joined with a few other people and formed the Society of St Nicholas of Japan to be a kind of mission society that would try to make Orthodoxy better known, and to do so in a context where it would not be linked to a particular ethnic group or culture.
I began working in the Editorial Department of the University of South Africa, editing study material that is sent to the 130000 students who live all over South Africa and in other parts of the world. From 1990 to 1993 I also taught part-time in the Missiology Department of the university at the invitation of the head of the department, Prof David Bosch. After the death of Prof Bosch in a car accident, however, the university authorities would not allow me to continue working in two departments, and that came to an end.
In the 1990s the university faced financial problems. For about 10 years government subsidies had been dropping, and there was bad management by the university authorities. Fees kept going up, and the number of students droipped, and the university was in big financial trouble. It had to retrench, and one way of doing this was to offer early retirement to the wrinklies. I didn't fancy spending the rest of my life polishing gerunds anyway, and hoped there might be ways of getting more involved in Orthodox mission, so I accepted the offer, and officially retired at the end of September 1999, on a pension of about US$500 a month, which is now worth about $250 a month. The Orthodox mission thing didn't materialise, at least not at home in South Africa, though I did spend a term teaching mission at the Orthodox seminary in Albania. So I'm now a freelance editor, writer, teacher, missiologist. Have diploma, will travel.