The Revd Alison Dobell writes:
THE Revd Beryl Morgan dedicated her life to the service of the
Church of England in the diocese of Lichfield. Last October, she
moved into residential care on the very weekend when she celebrated
50 years since she had been made a deaconess.
A sense of vocation came early to Beryl. 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 Beryl's indignant response.
In 1953, 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; she helped people explore
their faith, and how God might be calling them.
Beryl held many posts in the diocese during her 50 years in
formal ministry. In 1970, she was appointed Head Deaconess, a post
that she held for 17 years. These were challenging times for women
"Formidable" is a word that comes up consistently when talking
of Beryl; the result of her passion and commitment. She saw it as
part of her job to care for women's health and happiness, housing,
salary and pension. She wanted women to flourish, and not be
lonely, as woman's ministry was not a career that could be combined
with marriage at that time.
Running alongside this, Beryl was also Diocesan Lay Ministry
Adviser,a member of the General Synod, an Advisory Council for the
Church's Ministry selector, and Chaplain to the Girls' Friendly
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 among the people of Allens Rough, and was known
as a caring, encouraging pastor.
It was here, in 1990 or 1991, that I first met Beryl. I worked
with her for a year, as I explored my own 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 that time, the reality of women's 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 in Lichfield Cathedral when Beryl's 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 Bartholomew's, 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 women's groups that used to meet at
Beryl and Irene also enjoyed many adventurous and varied
holidays, from towing their trailer tent around France, to enjoying
the terracotta warriors in China.