Making Waco Men Better Since 1852

John Morris

Reverend John Robert Morris


Photo credit: Cumberland Presbyterian Church

John Morris was born April 26, 1870 in Alabama. His father was a sheriff and his grandfather was killed in the Civil War but John chose a very different life donning the armor of God.

In 1908, he was ordained in the Presbyterian Church and was Reverend at churches in the Waco area where he joined our lodge, Dallas, Whitney, Corsicana, Hubbard, Tennessee, Oklahoma and elsewhere. An elder of one of John’s churches said, “he was more capable in prayer than any minister I ever knew.”


Remarkably, John’s wife, Bessie Copeland Morris, was ordained simultaneously with him and as such, she was one of the first women ordained within their denomination. This initially caused a great deal of controversy but as a result of her successful ministry and equally successful writing, the protests quieted. She wrote prolifically and her book, “Shall a Woman Preach?” sold more than 50,000 copies which was a rather impressive number in its day. In it, Morris shines forth as a champion for women’s voting rights, their ability to work hard at many jobs, their natural talent for certain Christlike qualities, and she finds more than one occasion to include biting sarcasm. Following are quotes from that book. If you are Christian, I highly recommend getting a copy if you can find one. Even if you aren’t, her arguments are empowering for the ability of women to do just about anything.

“The blessed gospel which Jesus preached was, and is, the glorious emancipation of woman. And wherever this gospel is preached and accepted, women are no longer slaves and toys, but are lifted by it to a level with man…


We need the doctrines of Christ preached, and I say, shame on any man who would dare snatch the sweet message of Christ’s love from any messenger, be that messenger, man or woman, when the present needs are so great.”