The Rev. Rufus Morgan

The Rev. Rufus Morgan



The Rev. Rufus Morgan

The Rev. Rufus Morgan

When the St. Francis congregation was recently asked about material to include on our web site, the response was that Rev. Morgan “was St. Francis.” He lived a remarkable life from 1885-1983.

He was born in Franklin, N.C. and always considered the Smoky Mountains his home.  He received education in Waynesville, N.C. (high school), University of North Carolina, General Theological Seminary in New York City, and Columbia University. His ministry included St. Peter’s in New York City, Penland School
of Handicrafts (in Penland, North Carolina), small churches in South Carolina and 11 small churches in western North Carolina. He was particularly interested in St. Francis of Assisi in Cherokee because “my ancestors had moved into the area when it was Cherokee Indian country and had had friends among the Indian population.”
At the time that Rev. Morgan helped build St. Francis of Assisi in Cherokee, he was already serving several churches from Highlands to Murphy, a stretch of about 80 miles. He saw other needs, which was fortunate for us, because we now have our Episcopal church in Cherokee, N.C.

He was always clear about his priorities. Once, when asked to raise money to pay a church debt, his response was, “As I understood it, you called me here as your spiritual leader, and that’s what I propose to try to be. If we take care of the spiritual life, the money part will take care of itself.” Sometime in the 1950’s, he was chosen as the rural pastor of the year for the state of North Carolina (this was nondenominational).

Rev. Morgan’s parents were members of the Episcopal church, and his mother was a great influence in his decision to become a minister. He was always willing to serve wherever asked (provided that he was asked to be a spiritual leader, not a fund raiser), but he had a special fondness for the mountains of North Carolina.
He was an active member of the Appalachian Trail Conference and the Nantahala Hiking Club. He also received the Silver Beaver Award for Boy Scouts, and enjoyed hiking the mountains with the Boy scouts. He went on extensive hikes in these mountains.

He climbed Mount LeConte 172 times (elevation 6,593 feet, a 5 to 6 mile hike to depending on which trail is taken). He celebrated his 88th and 89th birthdays at LeConte lodge.

In an interview published in one of the Foxfire books, Rev. Morgan quoted St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer, “Oh, Lord our Christ, may we have Thy mind and Thy spirit. Make us instruments of Thy peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Oh, divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving, that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.” He went on to say, “I’ve been trying to live by that.”