Alec Motyer – Renowned Old Testament pastor-scholar, Christian Focus Publications author and dear friend – has passed away at the age of 91.
Born John Alexander Motyer in Dublin, he graduated with a BD (1949) and MA (1951) from Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Ireland, and did further studies at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford.
He was ordained in the Church of England in 1947 as a deacon, and then in 1948 as a priest, serving as a curate in Penn Fields, Wolverhampton (1947-1950), and at Holy Trinity Church in Bristol (1950-1954). In Bristol, he also served as Tutor, and then Vice Principal, of Clifton College (1950-1965).
From there, he became Vicar of St Luke’s, West Hampstead (1965-1970), but returned to Bristol as Deputy Principal of Tyndale Hall (1970-1971), and then became the Principal of the reconstituted Trinity College (1971-1981).
His final decade of active parish ministry was as the Minister at Westbourne (Bournemouth) (1981-1989).
Alec Motyer’s gift for writing was matched by his humility, passion for the Gospel and witty personality. Alec Motyer’s letters were a source of encouragement and uplifting to people all around the world, not least in the Christian Focus office. Below is an extract from a personal correspondence to William Mackenzie, Managing Director at CFP, which best illustrates Alec’s warm heart, humility and wit:
Since I am writing to Small W, I thought i should include a brief note to you – why should Christian fellowship become a bonanza for the Post Office?
May I thank you and herself for for such kindly and understanding love reaching out to me in these strange and odd days. Life without Beryl, after loving each other for 67 years, is an unwelcome and unusual experience … No I don’t want her back – she is having a high old time – ‘galavanting round heaven’. And NO, I am not in a rush to join her. As long as the Lord so wills, I am totally content to amble on in His sweet fellowship and in the increasing joy He allows me to have in His Holy Word. But there is a sort of underlying numbness, life lived in a gap. I am surrounded by oceans of TLC from family and church – and the ‘wall to wall’ cottage pies, soups and cakes continue.
Your kindness is rebounding on your head in terms of these over-long letters from me. You should not be so nice to me. Of course, were you to visit me, I would not plague you with letters.
Under the Sheltering wings
Mark Dever, in the foreword of Alec’s most recent CFP title Psalms by the Day: A New Devotional Translation describes his lasting influence:
One of the first – and still perhaps the best – summaries of the Bible in just a few messages that I have heard was given by Alec Motyer about twenty-five years ago. I was a student, speaking to students at the same conference. But when I saw Motyer was speaking on this topic, I could not resist attending all his lectures. And the view of God’s Word he gave me has been a lasting gift ever since.
William Mackenzie talks about his recent visit to Alec’s home, where they shared fellowship:
On the 16th of April my wife and I visited Alec at his home in Poynton – a wonderful welcome, a lovely morning thinking about the glory of Christ and His work for us. Alec was his usual cheerful, humorous self but was a lot frailer when compared to our previous visit. Towards the end of our time together that morning, we prayed together. On finishing our prayer, Alec then said, “I would like to pray again”. He prayed most beautifully and personally for another mutual friend who we knew was approaching the end of life. In that prayer Alec anticipated with joy going home to be with the Lord. It was clear to me that his affection was set on things above and his desire was to depart and to be with Christ which is far better.
We then left and went to the front door of their house where we took a picture and said farewell. That was one of the precious memories we have of Alec and we are thankful for his interest in us and our work. Alec knew the individual names of the people and team at Christian Focus and was really interested in their welfare. Isn’t it wonderful to remember that we have not lost someone when we know where they are?
Proverbs 10:7 – The memory of the just is blessed
Books by Alec Motyer