Canon Leslie James Morley

Rector 1985-1999

Leslie and George Morley, Easter Sunday 1999This selection of tributes and pictures is taken from the booklet "Farewell to Leslie and George" produced by the Magazine Committee. A presentation copy was given to Canon Morley after his last Eucharist as Rector of St. Peter's on Easter Sunday, 1999.

From Bishop's Manor

There are so many good memories that I have of Leslie and George that it is difficult to pick out any particular and specific story. However, one of the areas of Leslie’s ministry that has meant a great deal to me has been his spirituality and his sensitive identification with those who are poor and marginalised. And I reflect on some of the services that I have attended at St Peter’s over the years. For instance there were the Annual Services for those who suffer from and have died from AIDS. St Peter’s has provided a place for many to come and remember their friends in a Service that relates to where they are, even though they are not necessarily regular church goers.

I remember vividly the services held to remember the captives in Beirut and particularly Terry Waite. Leslie’s compassion and awareness of how to create the right atmosphere in which to pray and weep during those years of agony and anguish, are not easily forgotten. Again it was at St Peter’s that I have attended services concerned with Macedon and the homeless which had the most creative liturgy. And then there was the Service concerned with Jubilee 2000, to which so many came from throughout the area. St Peter’s through Leslie has been an example in the Diocese of a church that is concerned for the powerless, the voiceless and the homeless.

But one of my most vivid recollections of Leslie is a quiet day that he led ten years ago at St George’s in the Meadows. In his inimitable way he gently and graciously gave us a vision of God and of ourselves, which enabled us to move on in our journey with Christ. For these and for many other reasons I thank God for Leslie’s Ministry, not only to the City and to the congregation of St Peter’s but also to myself. I have benefited richly from knowing him.

The final example of self denial that he has given us, following our Lord Jesus Christ, is resigning his post in order that George may find her fulfilment in ministry. He has taken a big step of faith and I trust that in the near future he will discern what is the next stage of ministry that God is opening up for him. Wherever that will be and whoever he will minister to, they will be blessed by having a man of God amongst them.

+Patrick, Southwell

Canon Morley and colleaguesLeft to right: Leslie and George Morley, Eileen McLean, Jan and Wally Huckle, Jim McLean

Missing - one colleague

I shall miss:

  • (most of all) Leslie’s priestliness - showing as well as teaching how to be a priest
  • his friendship and support
  • his generous sharing of ministry

I shall miss sharing in quietness:

  • footwashing on Maundy Thursday and tidying up in the cold dark of midnight
  • preparing for the dawn service at 4.30am on Easter Day
  • the solemnity of ‘ashing’ on Ash Wednesday
  • celebrating the Eucharist week by week

I shall also miss:

  • the constantly interrupted staff meetings because he would answer every phone call
  • trying to catch up on staff walks - and him with such short legs!
  • wishing I’d thought of just that right phrase in a sermon or a meeting

For all that has been - Thanks
For all that shall be - Yes!

Eileen McLean, Assistant Rector

A Church mouseA church mouse, drawn by Rachel Burr for the successful 1989 "Action for hope" campaign

A Party to remember

In 1987(ish) St Peter’s put on a production of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. After weeks of rehearsals the play was performed for four nights in the church. The cast and everyone involved had worked really hard and after the last night there was a "Green Room" party at our house - and what a party it turned out to be!

My parents were staying with us. Sometime well after midnight Dad was obviously getting tired and, perhaps looking for a sign that the party would soon break up, enquired hopefully, "Has the vicar left yet?"

Mum simply led my Dad into the sitting room. There was Leslie dancing for all he was worth… Dog collar stuffed into his shirt pocket, an enormous glass of brandy and a very fat cigar.

Mum looked at Dad with a dead-pan face. "Er - no" she said simply, trying to look cross, "not yet!"

Susie Griffiths

Leslie Morley and Gillian DeaveLeslie and Gillian Deave, Deacon 1986 - 1991

An appreciation

Leslie is a problem. How can I write succinctly about someone who has so many facets, who has given me so much in friendship and inspiration and opportunity over the past twenty years?

Leslie and I first met not long after I moved to Nottingham University, where he was the senior Anglican chaplain, and I was invited to join the Chaplaincy "support committee". It was obvious from contacts with students and staff that his talents were well appreciated. He had followed Victor de Waal as chaplain - a man of strong personality who cannot have been an easy act to follow; but Leslie had won people over.

In 1980 Leslie left Nottingham to become a Canon at Southwell. Life in a cathedral close must have been rather different from the Chaplain’s office in "the cowsheds" on the University campus; but I think it gave him time to develop new perspectives.

When St Peter’s faced its last interregnum following Malcolm Goldsmith’s departure, I was a humble PCC member, not involved with the negotiations about a new incumbent. So I was a little surprised when, during a discussion of whom we might get to preach during this hiatus, my suggestion of Leslie Morley was met with a puzzling "Mmm, yes ..." rather than anything more positive. I didn’t know that we were about to get rather more of Leslie than the occasional sermon!

Since then a lot has happened at St Peter’s. I have been involved with some parts - not least after Leslie twisted my arm to persuade me to become a churchwarden! We have seen the Commercial Chaplaincy grow - and while that is largely Wally’s achievement it could not have happened as it did without the "power base" of St Peter’s. And that links closely with Leslie’s development of St Peter’s as a true city-centre church seen in the closer links with the Potter’s House and Macedon, and the very successful City Debates.

The Marks & Spencer development and the new St Peter’s Centre will be lasting reminders of Leslie’s time at St Peter’s. I have repeatedly been amazed at his grasp of tricky legal points, details of building and furnishing, and statutory requirements - and his ability as a sharp negotiator. The successful completion of the whole project, and its enthusiastic reception is almost entirely due to Leslie’s skilful management.

The new Centre will help St Peter’s to continue to develop its own "flavour" - in worship, in the way its people work together, in the way it relates to others - which makes it so special for all of us. It is remarkable how Leslie has fostered this "flavour" by working with and through many people. Although St Peter’s has plenty of talent in many fields it still needs organisation to produce results.

Leslie’s gifts of getting on with people are well known, across a wide range - talking about football, or art and music, or mushy peas, or walking, or theology and scholarship - all matters of genuine interest to him. It all fits in with the openness to other people, to change, to new developments, which has grown and become more clearly part of our church’s nature in Leslie’s years with us.

A few more areas to mention. We have been led to a more mature attitude to the Church in other countries, though Leslie’s links with Africa. New forms of worship and new styles have been introduced - Taizé, the healing ministry, meditations, weekday services, the use of icons - and done so sensitively that we are hardly aware of how much we have changed our habits. The range of "choices" available at St Peter’s is definitely a mark of openness - but all the forms on offer are rooted in that serious spirituality and sense of liturgy which is another of Leslie’s strengths. The development of women’s ministry, first with Gillian and now Eileen, with a full acceptance of equality, is "in our bones" at St Peter’s, but it could not have moved forward without active encouragement from Leslie.

And, of course, I don’t want to end without recognising how much George has brought to St Peter’s. This has been both in terms of her own gifts shared with us, and also in what she has brought to Leslie in marriage. Their union, which gave us all such delight, has been another of the special features of St Peter’s which we have benefited from. And her new position is one to be proud of (maybe the St Peter’s spirit will penetrate the North-East as well as the Central Nottingham Deanery), even if it means the removal of two dear souls from our midst.

Leslie is a problem. Well, he finds it hard to say no, he takes on too much, he has tended (against his will) to be turned into something indispensable and irreplaceable - but we have much more devolution of responsibility, more sharing of the work, than you find in many churches. That too is something Leslie has encouraged, something else we must thank him for - not least since it will allow us to survive the interregnum without too much of a sense of panic, though also with such regret for his departure.

Peter Hoare, PCC Vice Chairman

Valedictory ode in four stanzas

Read Richard Evans' poem - the view of the man in the pew...

Richard Evans
© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 21st April 1999