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The Very Reverend Father John Morris, Pastor Emeritus

       
 

The Very Reverend Father John W. Morris, Ph.D., became pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Vicksburg, in 2004.  He was ordained by Archbishop Elia of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch in April of 1980 and is an Archpriest, the highest rank given to married clergy in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  Father John has helped to establish missions and building programs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Shreveport, Louisiana, and Sugar Land, Texas, and has also done missionary work in the Phillippine Islands for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Hong Kong.  His vision of his assignment at St. George is to serve the Lord and His people and to reach out to all who want to make Christ the center of their lives.

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In front of the Iconostasis of St. George
 
 

Father John is married to Cheryl Haun Morris, Ph.D., and has two grown children, Matthew and Elizabeth, both persuing graduate studies in Austin, Texas.  He and his wife, Cheryl, converted to the Orthodox Church 35 years ago because, as professional historians, they wanted to belong to the Church founded by Christ.  Father John grew up with a Methodist background, and, in fact, most of his male relatives were Methodist ministers.  He left the Methodist Church as a teenager in search of a more historic connection with the ancient church, and he became an Episcopalian.

 
 

The 1970s brought about many changes in the Episcopal Church, as it was beginning to do with most mainline Protestant churches, so Father and Cheryl decided that it was time to "come home" to the ancient faith of the Orthodox Church.  According to Cheryl, there are many things besides the historical validity, which attracted them to the Orthodox Church.   "We wanted to belong to the Church founded by Christ; that Church which Christ promised the Holy Spirit would guide and guard so that the gates of Hades would not prevail against it.  We also wanted to belong to a Church where we were called to holiness, to grow in Christ, one where we were called to live up to God's standards, and one that didn't change with every passing fad or where people approached the faith like a cafeteria, where you pick and choose what you want to believe."

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Preparing for the Lebanese Dinner
 
 

"We appreciate the emphasis upon family in the Orthodox Church and how children were not shut out of worship, but encouraged to take part in.  Another thing we appreciated was that, although we had both attended Christian colleges, and my husband had been an avid student of the Bible most of his life, we really never really understood the Bible until we became Orthodox and began studying it through the ancient commentators on the Bible, the Fathers, who were men who had been taught by the apostles or by those who had been taught by the apostles.

 
 

Father John received his B.A. from Oklahoma City University, his M.A. and Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University and Master of Theological Studies degree from Holy Cross Orthodox Seminary, Brookline, Massachusetts, all with highest honors.  From 1971-1972, he was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship and studied at Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.  He taught history at Southwestern University, in Georgetown, Texas, Austin Community College in Austin, Texas, The Wentworth Institute in Boston, Indiana University Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Kent State at Stark County in Canton, Ohio.  He has taught courses on Church history at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, Malone College in Canton, Ohio, and the Grecho Institute of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana.  Father John has written three books on modern German history, as well as three books on Orthodox Christianity:  The Charismatic Movement, An Orthodox Evaluation; Orthodox Fundamentalists, A Critical View; and the recently published The Historic Church: An Orthodox View of Christian History. He has written articles for many publications, including The Word and The Greek Orthodox Theological Review.  He also contributed to the Orthodox Study Bible and is a former member of the board of editors for The Word magazine.

 
 

Father John is a member of the Orthodox Theological Society and serves as a representative of SCOBA (all the Orthodox bishops in America) on the Orthodox-Lutheran national dialogue.  Long active in ecumenical affairs, Father John has served as President of the Greater Huntington, West Virginia, Ministers' Association, and the Greater Shreveport, Louisiana, Minister's Association, as well as the Board of Directors of Churches United of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  He has represented the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese at the founding meeting of Christian Churches Together, a new national ecumenical organization consisting of  Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Main Line Protestant, Evangelical and Pentecostal Churches.  Until late 2012, he ministered to inmates at the Adams County Correctional Facility, a federal prison at Natchez, Mississippi.

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Father John, serving at Sunday of Orthodoxy
 
 

Father John has recently been appointed to the Pastoral Practices Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.  He has also been appointed to the Ecumenical Relations Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.

 

 
The following are some writings by Father John:

 A Glossary of Orthodox Christian Terms
From the Orthodox Study Bible
 
Thoughts on Women's Ordination
From The Word, January, 2004
 
Gay and Lesbian Ordination:  An Orthodox View
From The Word, November 2010 
 
The Holy Tradition and the Veneration of Mary and other Saints in the Orthodox Church
From The Word, June 2007 
 
Who is the New Israel
From Again, December 1989 
 
The Historic Church:  An Orthodox View of Christian History
The Historic Church is a survey of Christian history written for Orthodox Christians by an Eastern Orthodox scholar.  Although one can find many excellent studies of Christian history in the United States, none of them considers the development of Christianity from an Eastern Orthodox point of view.  The work begins by laying a foundation for the study of Christian history by discussing the beliefs and practices of the ancient Church, during the age of the Fathers and the Seven Ecumenical councils.  The author then discusses the development of Roman Catholicism and the theological and cultural reasons for the split between Rome and Orthodoxy, and relations between East and West following the schism.  He concludes his work with a discussion of the origins and historical development of every major Protestant group and tells how they differ from Orthodoxy.
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