Pioneering minister for 50 years, Revd Beryl Morgan remembered

Published: 15th July 2014

It is impossible to remember every member of the diocese when they die, but just occasionally we have to observe the passing of someone who has made an extraordinary contribution to the diocese. The Revd Beryl Morgan is one such person, as remembered here by Revd Alison Dobell, aided by Revd Preb Pippa Thorneycroft.

The Revd Beryl Morgan dedicated her life to the service of the Church of England and within the diocese of Lichfield. Last October she moved into residential care the very weekend she celebrated 50 years since she had been made a Deaconess.

A sense of vocation came early to Beryl. So the story goes when she was about eight years old the vicar in her church asked,Which of you little boys might become a priest? What about us little girls? was the young Beryls indignant response to herself.

Beryl began her long journey to fulfil her sense of vocation to the priesthood in 1953 when she started training as a parish worker. Six years later she began her Deaconess training in Hindhead in Surrey. She then worked in the parish of Rickerscote near Stafford where her ministry was especially appreciated by helping people explore their faith and how God might be calling them.

Beryl held many roles within the diocese during her 50 years in formal ministry. In 1970 Beryl was appointed Head Deaconess a post which she held for 17 years. These were changing and challenging times for women in ministry and Beryl was committed to supporting and encouraging the women in her care and would stand up for them whenever necessary. Formidable is a word that comes up consistently when talking of Beryl, it came from a place of passion and commitment. Beryl thought it vitally important to have regular, informal afternoon meetings in order that she could get to know each minister personally and therefore support them in their posts and help to sort out problems if they arose. Their health and happiness, housing, salary and pension she saw as part of her job. She wanted women to flourish and not be lonely, as it was not a career that could be combined with marriage at that time.

Running alongside this Beryl was also Diocesan Lay Ministry Advisor, a member of General Synod, an ACCM selector and Chaplain to the Girls Friendly Society.

In 1980 Beryl served in the Parish of Holy Trinity, Willenhall as a Deaconess, and then as a Deacon from 1987. There she helped plant a new church amongst the people of Allens Rough and was known as a caring, encouraging pastor.

It was here in 1990/91 that I first met Beryl. I worked with her for a year as I explored my own sense of vocation, and I like many others she helped and nurtured, am very grateful for her common sense approach and her love of the Church of England expressed through the daily office and Holy Communion. At this time the reality of womens ordination was coming ever closer, Beryl was an active member of MOW and was at Westminster Central Hall when the vote finally went through.

It was a joyous day at Lichfield cathedral when Beryls vocation was finally fulfilled as she was ordained priest by Bishop Keith Sutton. Beryl had by now just retired but she had a very fruitful priestly ministry at St Bartholomews Church, Penn for seven years.

It was a great sadness to Beryl that her only brother died in his early twenties, but she and her friend Irene shared a house for many years. Irene was an excellent cook and her delicious cakes were much appreciated by the womens groups that used to meet at their home.

Beryl and Irene also enjoyed many adventurous and varied holidays from towing their trailer tent around France to enjoying the terracotta warriors in China, and probably their last holiday abroad together was to Venice, when Irene was in a wheelchair, not the most disabled friendly city but that didnt deter them!
Beryls interests outside the church ranged from canals to ceramic tiles, and in retirement she completed an Open University degree which she was rightly very proud of achieving. She was also a member of the Soroptimists for over 40 years.

Beryl moved from Penn to Stuart Court in Leicester diocese in 2004 but very recently had transferred to Manormead Care Home at Hindhead, where she died suddenly but peacefully on 1st June. She had had a pioneering ministry in challenging times and those of us who have known her are enriched by her example, her wisdom, tenacity and enthusiasm as well as her pastoral heart which was deeply caring.

Page last updated: Tuesday 15th July 2014 10:27 AM
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