Hundreds of friends, family celebrate Morrison

2/19/2008

‘Twick’ carried UM flame around world

By Woody Woodrick
Advocate Editor

VICKSBURG — It was only fitting that the final song played was a joyful rendition of the hymn When the Saints Go Marching In.

Played by jazz trumpeter Charlie Miller, the song concluded a celebration of the life of Martha Cooper “Twick” Morrison on Feb. 9. Morrison, 76, died of cancer on Feb. 7. She had planned the service held at her long-time church home, Crawford Street United Methodist Church, and insisted it “not be sad, but be a celebration,” said the Rev. Geoffrey Joyner.

Morrison left plenty to celebrate as hundreds of family and friends recalled the impact she made on people and United Methodist missions around the world. She served in numerous leadership and teaching capacities on local, regional and national levels for more than 50 years across the denomination, including as vice president of the Women’s Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. She taught in the Schools of Christian Mission, an annual education program of the Women’s Division, and was a former lay leader of the Mississippi Annual Conference.

She was one of five United Methodist lay representatives in the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches and participated in mission trips to Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Russia, Eastern Europe, Central America, South America and the Caribbean Basin. She was also a founding member of the Good Shepherd Community Center in Vicksburg and was recently named a recipient of the Livesay Service Award by United Methodist-related Millsaps College.

“It is hard to sum up Twick in a few words,” said Jackie Pennington, a friend and president of the Mississippi Conference of United Methodist Women. “She was a very special person who touched a lot of lives.”

Bishop Hope Morgan Ward delivered the homily. “Twick was sure that every moment was a gift in the context of forever. That’s why her arms were stretched so wide, that’s why her spirit was so strong, why her love was so great,” Ward said. “That is why her spirit continues in every one of us.”

Ward cited Morrison’s extensive world travel not just for pleasure, but for mission. “We’ve been led into a new era of mission; a global mission,” she said. “When Twick would travel, she saw for us the realities of the world. And when she told stories of those whom she had met, she connected us with them and opened channels of love and service.

“Her witness teaches us that every child is a fresh gift of God destined for a purpose through the love of Jesus.”

Ward cited Morrison’s leadership and her ability to rally others to causes she embraced. One was the creation of communications centers in United Methodist conferences in Africa. As president of the Foundation for United Methodist Communications, she spearheaded the effort to establish the centers and provide communications tools such as computers, wireless phones and training to better spread the Gospel.

The Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications who attended the service, described Morrison as a “tireless advocate for justice and a determined voice for ending poverty.”

She “energized others and inspired us all to work harder for our mission to communicate effectively about poverty and to provide the means for those without voice to have the tools, training and capacity to tell their own stories,” he said. Under her leadership, the foundation more than doubled its charitable income.

“She will be greatly missed, but her commitment to doing the right thing for all people will live on through her hundreds of friends,” Hollon said. “Standing for justice, embracing all and living out compassion is her legacy.”

Morrison was committed to racial reconciliation in her home state. As chairperson of the Commission on Religion and Race, she helped create the Light Partners program and organized the Journey Toward the Light series where committee members and others visit important sites around the state from the civil rights era. Part of each journey is to hear the stories of those directly involved.

"She was a selfless, tireless person — not only for her church, but also for her community,” said longtime friend Betty Bexley. “She was always interested in church work. She would go to other states and countries and come back to report to her local church. She was always grateful to her home church.”

Bexley, also a member of Crawford Street, remembers playing bridge and traveling with her friend, whom she met upon moving back to Vicksburg in the 1950s.

“She was a very dear friend. We’ve known each other since we were young marrieds,” she said. “Our families have been together not only socially, but through the church —even before we had children.”

Part of the service was a reflection from Morrison in which she shared how the The Lord’s Prayer had come to have more meaning for her, especially the line that says “Thy will be done on earth.”

“She had a new understanding,” said her son Bob Morrison III of Vicksburg. “It’s not going through the motions. You have an affirmative obligation to do his will on Earth. That was sometimes controversial, but that’s how she felt led. And we were proud of her for that.”

Other survivors include: her husband of 55 years, Robert R. Morrison Jr.; son Paul Cooper Morrison of Jackson; and seven grandchildren.

Information for this story was supplied by “The Vicksburg Post” and United Methodist News Service.