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Obituary: The Revd John Roland Morgan

by
03 October 2014

A correspondent writes:

THE Revd John Morgan, who died on 19 August, two weeks before his 83rd birthday, was born in Handsworth, Birmingham, where he was baptised by Fr Charnock at St Peter's. In 1939, he was evacuated to Worcestershire. In 1942, he then became a pupil at Handsworth Grammar School, and in December 1943 was confirmed by Bishop Linton at Handsworth Old Church.

During his second year at grammar school, John was severely ill with epilepsy, and he did not re-enter school until three years later, in 1947. Despite this, in 1948 he gained a School Certificate with ten credits, and in 1951 was awarded an exhibition to Birmingham University to read for an Honours degree in theology.

In 1954, John entered Bishop's College, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, to prepare for ordination under Canon Lindsay Dewar and Dr C. B. Moss. He was made deacon by Bishop Leonard Wilson in 1955, to a title at St Mary's, Selly Oak, Birmingham, and priest in 1956. His epilepsy recurred the following year, however, and his appointment was terminated on the advice of his medical specialist; but it was restored when the Revd Stephen Shorthouse retained John at Christ Church, Yardley Wood.

John married Elizabeth Mary Sillitoe at St Michael's, Handsworth, in 1957, and in 1959 he became assistant curate, under Canon Lawrence Pitt, of St Paul's, Hamstead, a parish in north-west Birmingham, including Hamstead Colliery and the Tanhouse Housing Estate (a slum-clearance programme from West Bromwich).

In 1961, he was appointed Vicar of St Chad's, Smethwick, a parish with a predominantly working-class population, who were housed in densely developed terraced housing. He worked with the new rural dean, the Revd Donald Tytler (later Bishop of Middleton), and edited the tabloid deanery newspaper Smethwick Siren, which was later expanded into the Warley Herald.

In 1968, John was appointed Vicar of St Peter's, Balsall Common, at the eastern extreme of the Birmingham diocese. During his tenure, John was appointed secretary of the Birmingham Diocesan Liturgical Committee, and helped to introduce parishes to the Alternative Service Book.

In 1982, John moved to Oxfordshire, as Vicar of St Mary the Virgin, North Leigh; he became chapter clerk in 1985, and Rural Dean of Woodstock in 1987.

He retired in poor health in 1994, and moved to Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire, where he lived till this year, enduring several heart and eye operations. His widow, Elizabeth, his daughter, Stephanie Denton, and his son, Richard, and five grandchildren survive him.

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