The Revd Malcolm Purdy: 1930-2015
A passionate activist, encouraging local churches to work together and supporting Ethiopian asylum seekers, helping to initiate a now-thriving Ethiopian church in Manchester
The Revd Malcolm Victor Purdy died on 2 January 2015 at the age of 84. Malcolm had been ill for several months but had continued to serve in the Wythenshawe Hospital chaplaincy team whenever he was able.
Malcolm attended Adnitt Road Baptist Church, Northampton as a teenager and was eventually baptised there. During National Service he attained the rank of Captain and continued to serve for a time in the regular army. During this time he began lay-preaching, encouraged by a sergeant who knew him. Malcolm’s father owned a prosperous business and had always hoped that his son would take it over in due course, however Malcolm had a vision of God calling him to ministry and that was the course he chose.
Malcolm attended Regent’s Park College, Oxford, graduating in 1957, the year he got married to Elsie and they moved to Newall Green, Wythenshawe where he was to stay for nearly 60 years. During his ministry of 40 years at Newall Green Malcolm was significantly involved in youth work, starting both a Scout Troop and an open youth club. He was very committed to the ecumenical movement and was a key person in the creation of a Newall Green and Baguely Council of Churches, later to become Churches Together. Malcolm worked hard to bring the Churches together and they formed a covenant community which led for a while to the establishment of an LEP of Newall Green Baptist Church and St Francis of Assisi C of E Parish Church. Malcolm was a keen supporter of the Iona Community and organised various ecumenical groups to visit and stay with the Community. He was also a lively member of the Free Church Federal Council and served as its Chair in Manchester.
Following Malcolm’s ‘retirement’ in 1997 he took pastoral charge of the United Reformed Church in Baguley where he served diligently for some years. Malcolm continued to serve as a hospital chaplain and was deeply respected by the team of ministers who worked with him.
Malcolm was always very concerned about the plight of asylum seekers to the UK and became deeply involved with the Ethiopian community in Manchester, assisting many individuals in their struggle to be recognised as genuine asylum seekers. This was a task that was not only close to his heart but suited his temperament as a doughty fighter. That there is today a thriving Ethiopian Church in Manchester is due to a large degree to Malcolm’s support of this venture from its earliest days.
During the later years of his retirement Malcolm continued to invite local priests and ministers into his home for regular meals and times of worship. In this way he continued to support those in full-time ministry and provided a place where stresses and strains could be unloaded and shared with someone who had ‘seen it all’.
Following several stays in hospital and long bouts of illness Malcolm died peacefully at home. His funeral took place on 16 January and was attended by a very large crowd of friends and relatives who literally crammed the chapel. Following the committal there was a service of thanksgiving at Newall Green Church at which tributes were paid by former colleagues and by a representative of the Ethiopian Church in Manchester. Our own Phil Jump, the Regional Minister for the North Western Baptist Association was one of those who paid warm tributes to Malcolm.
The Revd Chris Shelley, Chorlton Central LEP, Manchester