Staff

Pastor

Bob Morwell

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Bob Morwell was born and grew up in Carbondale, IL, and has returned to his hometown to take up semi-retirement.  His birth name was Morgan, but when he married the former Nina Cogswell in 1980, they took parts of both their family names and made a new one, to symbolize their equal partnership.  They have two grown children.  Their son Matthew lives with his wife Celine, live in New Hampshire and he works at a residential school for troubled children in nearby Massachusetts.  Their daughter, Anastasia (Tasha) lives with her husband, Jabril (and their colossal Great Dane, Gladys) in Jacksonville, IL, where she teaches at MacMurray College.

Bob is actually an ordained United Methodist pastor.  After attending Southern Illinois University (Class of '75) and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Class of '78) he entered full-time ministry in which he served communites varying in size from 350 to nearly 300,000.  His last full-time appointment was to the United Methodist Church in Carterville, from which he retired after six years of service, on June 30, 2019.

Among his interests were encouraging the church to be active in peacemaking.  He traveled to East Germany and to the former Soviet Union.  His work in East Germany led to him helping to produce a Christmas Eve worship linking congregations in Berlin and Decatur, IL, which was telecast internationally on ABC and German television in 1990.  His work in the former USSR focused on the nation of Belarus, where he brought aid to orphanages and a chidren's hospital helping victims of the Chernobyl disaster.

In 1995, he became the first white pastor to serve an African American congregation in the history of the United Methodist Church in Illinois.  During that time, he helped organize churches of different races and denominations to resist racism which had led to the burning of churches and a KKK rally in that area.  He was even able to enlist the participation of the legendary Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who addressed the rally which Bob had organized.

Bob has been actively involved in disaster relief, helping bring aid to locations affected by floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes in several states,, and a nuclear accident and collpase of a nation (USSR) overseas. He has also served as a volunteer hospital and police chaplain and led grief support groups for people who have experienced the loss of a child.

Like most "retired" pastors, Bob was not content to just kick-back.  He heard about St. John's from a colleague and asked the church if they might be interested in him as a part-time pastor.  On October 1, he was officially hired.  In addition to his pastoral work here, he is a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate} volunteer who works with foster children in Williamson County. Bob is also passionate about the worsening environmental crisis we are facing and is part of the Climate Reality Project led by Al Gore and Faith in Place, an interfaith group dedicated to helping people of faith promote environmental responsibility.

Bob is involved in two churches, these days.  He attends the early service First United Methodist Church of Carbondale (where he grew up), and then drives to Du Quoin to lead worship at St. John's.  Actually, the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ are pretty kindred denominations that often cooperate.  Their differences are less theological than they are over polity (the way they structure themselves).  Across the country, there are many small communities where UMC and UCC congregations actually share pastors. So, this arrangement is not unusual. Bob has always been ecumenically oriented, and is happy to "color outside denominational lines."

He is here to serve Christ, who is proclaimed in both denominations.  The "flavor" of the church is a secondary consideration.

Besides...He thinks that St. John's UCC is pretty sweet!




 
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