THE guardian: OBITUARY FOR MURDOCH MACKENZIE
Written by Peter Millar: Minister of St Andrews Kirk in Madras from 1978 to 1983 (following Murdoch)
Published: Wednesday 11 March 2015 in the Guardian
Murdoch MacKenzie: Compassionate man of the Church who took on challenging roles, both globally and ecumenically.
Born: 23 February 1938 in Glasgow. Died: 3 February 2015 in Edinburgh aged 76.
My friend the Rev Murdoch MacKenzie, who has died aged 76, worked as an ordained minister alongside those who knew poverty and oppression first-hand. He championed a Christian faith that spoke to the modern world.
Born in Glasgow, the son of Iain MacKenzie and his wife, Elizabeth (nee Sutherland), at the age of 10 Murdoch moved with the family to Birkenhead when his father became marine superintendent of the Anchor Line. He attended Birkenhead school and, following national service with the RAF, studied geography at Oxford and divinity at Edinburgh. In 1964 he married Anne Capey, a doctor. He joined the Iona Community in 1965, and in 1966 started his missionary service with the Church of Scotland in Madras (now Chennai), where, the following year, he was ordained by the Right Rev Lesslie Newbigin in theunited Church of South India.
With his fluent Tamil and boundless energy, Murdoch worked alongside the poor and marginalised. He and Indian colleagues of all faiths established a range of innovative projects including the New Residents Welfare Trust, which helped displaced people adjust to life in the new tenement blocks. His congregation at St Andrew’s Kirk, Madras, was encouraged to commit to outreach work. In the city there was a daycare centre and educational work for hut- dwellers around the church compound wall; further afield, cottage industries, nutritional advice and weekly clinics. Returning to the UK in 1978, Murdoch ministered in Glenrothes and then with the United Reformed Church in Runcorn, Cheshire. In 1988, he went to Carrs Lane Church, Birmingham. This was at the time of the break-up of Yugoslavia, and important links were made with those of other faiths, especially with worshippers at the Central Mosque in the city.
In 1996 he was appointed ecumenical moderator in Milton Keynes, where he had pastoral care of the clergy of all denominations. His creative leadership brought new dimensions to the partnership between Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic, URC and independent churches, as well as to interfaith relationships, and to networks with civic and political leaders.
He and Anne retired in 2003 to Connel in Argyll, where Murdoch became even more involved with the work of the Iona Community, with ministry in local churches, and in helping the town of Oban achieve Fairtrade status. Eighteen months ago he and Anne moved to Edinburgh to be nearer their family.
Murdoch is survived by Anne, their daughters, Ruth and Catriona, son, Iain, two grandchildren, and his brother, Kenneth.