The Revd John Morris

The Revd John Morris



New relationships and new beginnings

By Revd John Morris

It was fashionable, a few years ago, to talk in slightly disparaging terms about the ‘arranged marriages’ of other cultures. The implication was that marrying for love and choosing your own partner was a far superior way of doing things. Yet memories are short. It’s not too many years ago that introductions and talk of ‘suitability’ were common in our traditional British culture. And yet the success or failure of marriages coming out of the different cultures and traditions is not wildly different, and some of us have come to see that whilst forced marriage is wrong (and illegal in the UK), different ways of choosing a partner can, for some people, be equally valid.

Whatever ways partners are chosen, you don’t really get to know each other until you are actually living together. As the young man said to his bride as they went down to breakfast in their hotel on the first day of their honeymoon, “Try to act naturally as if we’ve been married for years.”  The pretence entirely spoiled shortly afterwards by his very loud exclamation, “Good grief!  Is that all you eat for breakfast?” Of course, these days people often choose to live together for a while, but you don’t get much chance to do that with a new Vicar. A few meetings, some interviews and exchanges, some references and a lot of prayer and you’re committed.

As I approach my joining you as your Vicar and you are all wondering what on earth this new man is going to be like, it’s a bit like a mixture of chosen and prearranged marriage. We sort of know each other a little, but we don’t really know what the other side is like. Both sides are full of hopes and aspirations. Perhaps some people have ‘Googled’ me and discovered pictures and sermons I’ve preached? Perhaps some of you have friends of friends who have told you stories? Perhaps some people hope that nothing will change? Perhaps some people hope that the new Vicar will finally do something about some pet project or aspect of parish life that they’ve hankered after for years. Whatever happens, I know that a lot of prayer and thought have gone into the selection process (from both sides) and I know that it feels absolutely right for me to be coming to serve you as your Parish Priest. I hope and pray that as we learn to live together, we will allow God to lead us and the Church in The Bourne, at St Thomas’, St Martin’s and Brambleton Hall, along with the Parish of Tilford to grow in knowledge and love, that His kingdom gets a little closer to this part of Surrey, and that the Good News revealed in and through Christ is spread throughout the Parish.



John started out as a scientist in the Royal Radar Establishment, Malvern but found his vocation to the priesthood and was ordained in Brecon Cathedral. He served two Curacies firstly in Swansea and then in three rural parishes just outside Hereford. His first incumbency was in the villages of Lugwardine and Weston Beggard, also on the outskirts of Hereford. On being appointed a Naval Chaplain, John served all over the world, from Antarctica to the Arctic, on a variety of ships and submarines. He passed Commando Training in 1996 and served in various posts with Royal Marines Commandos including Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. In his last job in the Navy, John was licenced to and assisted at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow. On leaving the Navy, John was Chaplain to Lord Wandsworth College for a brief period before joining Exeter Diocese where he has assisted in a variety of roles.

John is a keen singer and has sung with the Three Choirs Festival, The Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra as well as with various Choral Societies round the country including Guildford Choral Society.  A keen sailor, John is a Yachtmaster Examiner for the Royal Yachting Association.  He was one of the skippers of the Royal Navy entry in the inter-services round the world race in 2000.

Married to Gillian, a Primary School Headteacher, they have a black Labrador called Maisie and two grown up children. Abigail is a trainee medical writer in London and Charles plays cricket for Worcestershire CCC.  John and Gillian enjoy sailing their own boat when time permits and attempting to grow flowers and vegetables in their garden when there’s not enough spare time to go down to the boat...