Staff

Pastor

Robert (Bob) Morwell

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Bob Morwell has served as St. John's Pastor since 2019.

He was born and grew up in nearby Carbondale.  He graduated Southern Illinois University in 1975 with a Bachelor's degree iin Public Relations.  He then attended Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, where he received a Masters of Divinity in 1978.

Bob is actually a lifelong United Methodist, but the United Church of Christ has always had a very similar theological outlook and there are numerous instances of pastors serving churches of both denominations...sometimes simultaneously!

Throughout most of his ministerial career, Bob served churches in Central Illinois in communities both rural and urban. 

He became involved in international peacemaking and established a sister church relationship with a congregation which was situated in what was then communist East Germany. In 1987, he arranged a joint Christmas Service by telephone between his church and one in East Berlin.  It was the first worship service to ever unite Christians on both sides of the Iron Curtain.  He conceived of, and helped produce, an internationally televised Christmas Eve worship service which linked congregations in Decatur, IL and East Berlin in 1990.  He later organized several missions to help victims (especially children) of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Belarus. 

On a more local level, Bob has also worked with Habitat for Humanity and in support of domestic violence shelters.  He has served as a volunteer hospital chaplain and as a volunteer police chaplain.  He was also active in the Walk to Emmaus spiritual growth program.  He made history as the first white pastor to serve a predominantly African American United Methodist Church in Illinois (Bethel UMC in Peoria)  from 1995-1996.  He led a community worship service in which he was able to arrange for the legendary Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond to address the gathering.  He also headed an interfaith group made of Christians. Jews, Muslims, and Unitarians.

His last full-time appointment in the United Methodist Church brought him back to Southern Illinois, where he served the Carterville UMC until his retirement in 2019.   At that time, they moved to Carbondale. In September of that year, he was hired as the pastor at St. John's.  He is also involved in environmental causes.

Bob has been married to his wife Nina, since 1980.  When they married, they took parts of their family names (his was Morgan, hers was Cogswell) and made a new name (Morwell) to signify their equality and unity.  Nina works part-time, from home, for a PR firm as a media analyst.  She is also a part-time secretary at the First United Methodist Church of Carbondale.  Nina is also an accomplished musician who has played the bassoon in several symphonies.  She is also taking graduate courses in Music History at SIU...so she is pretty busy!

The Morwells have two children.  Their son Matthew and his wife, Celine, live in the community of Milford, New Hampshire, where he works as a postal carrier.  Their daughter Anastasia (Tasha) lives in the St. Louis area and works at a school for at-risk high school students, helping them to make it into and through college.

 
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