Reverend Dorothy Millicent Morris, M.S was remembered as a “virtuous” woman by her granddaughter, Barbara Atherly, who gave a stirring eulogy at the pastor’s funeral service yesterday at St. Peter’s A.M.E Church in Queenstown, Georgetown.
Morris who celebrated her 105th birthday in July passed away on October 28, last.
Among other things, she was the first female priest at the African Methodist Episcopal (AME); among the first to register marriages in Guyana; a seamstress; a missionary and a humanitarian.
Her coffin was lead into the church during a solemn procession by clergy and mourners.
In delivering the tribute, Atherly thanked the congregation for partaking in celebrating the life of her grandmother, who she said was born in Alberttown, Georgetown.
She said that Reverend Morris was the second child for her parents, James and Josephine Stephens.
But her mother died of typhoid fever when she was just seven months old.
Atherly, who wept intermittently, asserted that her grandmother was a true jewel whose life and services demonstrated the qualities of a virtuous woman.
According to the granddaughter, perhaps Reverend Morris lived to that ripe old age to make up for the premature death of her mother. She recalled that when not working outside of Guyana, her grandmother spent time with her two godmothers.
During that time, she said that Reverend Morris was able to acquire exceptional dress making skills from one of them allowing the skill to be one of her professional accomplishments.
She said, “Our grandmother was a mighty woman of God who devoted her life to the church and service to the less fortunate in our community. In 1957, her desire to become a missionary was fulfilled when she was consecrated a deaconess. Following the death of her husband (Reverend Alphonso Morris) in 1962, she pursued ministerial studies locally…”
“In March 1964 she was ordained a local deacon and in April 1969 she was ordained an itinerant elder. The AME church recognized her commitment and devotion and in 1973 appointed her the first presiding female elder in the A.M.E worldwide,” said Atherly.
With a broad smile, Atherly added, “I recall as a child our mother gathering us around the radio to listen to (Reverend Morris) as she ministered to the nation on Guyana Broadcasting Corporation morning devotion programmes.”
She said that her grandmother always emphasized the importance of morning and evening devotions; she loved family. She said that although the union between Reverend Morris and her husband who died five decades ago bore no children, “the close bond she had with her husband’s children resulted in her having a loving relationship with their 13 children and grandchildren.”
According to the granddaughter, visits to her grandmother’s home were always enjoyable.
“As children we all look forward to visiting her in 152 Duncan Street (Georgetown). As soon as we arrived at her home we quickly gravitated to her backsteps to survey her fruit trees to see what we can reap… A visit to her home is never complete without her serving us cake, ginger beer or sorrel. And she made the best black cake ever.”
She said that her grandmother’s wish is for this home to be renovated into a senior citizens’ home in honour of her memory and that of her late husband.
This, she added, will soon commence.
In 1983, she said that her grandmother was bestowed with a national award—the Medal of Service (MS) for her missionary work and dedicated community service among the children and aged in the Charlestown and Albouystown neighbourhoods.
Atherly recounted, “Reverend Morris was a counselor and used every opportunity to counsel young couples. This led her to become Guyana’s first female Marriage Officer. (She) was one to whom we could always turn to for love, understanding and sound advice.”
Reverend Morris leaves to mourn seven grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, 26 great great grandchildren, her sisters and other relatives and friends.
She was laid to rest in Le Repentir Cemetery.
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