Fr. Dn. Stephen Hayes
Father Deacon Stephen Hayes was born in Durban in 1941. After matriculating at St Stithians College, he completed a BA in Theology at the University of Natal. This was followed by a Diploma in Theology at Durham University in the UK. He then completed a Bachelor’s, a Master’s and a Doctorate in Theology all through UNISA.
His first exposure the Orthodoxy was a seminar he attended in Switzerland in 1968 for non-Orthodox theological students, followed by attending services for Holy Week and Pascha in Paris. The Easter kiss that followed made a very strong impression on him, and he began to read about Orthodox theology. Although he was Anglican, and remained so for 15 years thereafter, he found that the theologies of the two churches were in conflict. In 1985 he and his family, including his wife Valerie, and his children Bridget, Simon and Jethro started attending services at Pantanassa Church, where the services at the time were in English. After an incident in which a visiting priest in 1986 announced that the church was built with Greek money and was for Greeks, he along with several others, formed the Society of St Nicholas of Japan with the aim of promoting the Orthodox Christian faith among people of all ethnic groups. In November 1987 the family were received into the Orthodox Church by Fr Chrysostom Frank, who was then chaplain of the Society.
In 2001, he was appointed as the secretary of the Diocesan Mission Committee, under Metropolitan Seraphim. He was involved in teaching in various congregations and groups from the African Orthodox Church who were interested in Orthodoxy, first as a Reader, and later as a deacon. He was mainly involved with the former congregation of the African Orthodox Episcopal Church in Mamelodi East, several members of which were baptised on the day I was ordained as a deacon. . In 2005 he was involved in planting a new Orthodox parish in Tembisa. After Fr Johannes Rakumako was assigned to Tembisa, Father Stephen began to spend alternate Sundays at St Nicholas of Japan in Brixton, and with the congregation in Mamelodi East, where they have the Hours and Readers Service (Obednitsa) With the blessing of Archbishops Paul and Seraphim at the time, he had the Hours and Obednitsa translated into North Sotho and Zulu for use in mission congregations where there was no regular priest.”
Father Deacon Stephen participates in a number of internet discussions on Orthodoxy and missiology (the study of Christian mission) and continues to supervise post-graduate student in missiology at the University of South Africa. His blog Khanya has articles on Orthodox missiology, the history of St Nicholas parish, and other topics.
Diaconissa Katherine (Val) has always shared in Fr Stephen’s mission work. Their daughter, Julia (Bridget) is a professional iconographer in Greece, and her work can be viewed here.