Max Folsom Morris was by all accounts an extraordinary man, not only because of his considerable achievements, but also because of his indelible presence. The booming Southern drawl, the absolute authority, the inexhaustible fire of his convictions.
Before entering Southern Baptist Theological seminary as a young man, he was already a nationally-known evangelist, drawing huge crowds. My uncle, Louis Drummond, attended seminary with him. Uncle Louis would go on to become Billy Graham’s official biographer, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, to name only a few accomplishments. He once confided in me that Max Morris was the greatest speaker he ever heard, and the most anointed.
When my father graduated from seminary, he preached all across America and Europe. Eventually, he became pastor of the First Baptist Church of South Miami. He was one of the youngest head pastors of a major church in the country. It was there that his outrage over racism reached a boiling point. In 1961, when most white pastors throughout the South were either actively supporting segregation or supporting it through their silence, my father preached a sermon in which he called both camps out for their failure to represent Jesus Christ.
The sermon was a trenchantly developed argument against segregation, yet it was also a rhetorical masterpiece. It earned him write-ups in Time magazine and other prominent publications.
He wrote his first book while a pastor at South Miami. It was a Christian critique of Communism published by Zondervan. There would be more books to come. He never stopped writing. He wrote right up until the last few days before he passed.
His talents were stunning and I find myself reaching for a word so abused it has almost lost all meaning. Genius. Brilliant people are not geniuses, and there are very, very few brilliant people. For that matter, many purported geniuses are so-called because they play well with Mensa puzzles. True geniuses are people who alter the way other people see the world, whose talents are unexpected, novel, sui generis and highly personal. My father makes me want to reach for that word.
And there was no end to the manifestations of his creativity. Aside from the renowned power of his speaking, aside from his many books-non-fiction, novels and poetry-he owned a cosmetic company and invented a reading system that earned the attention of USA Today and other national publications. He was the subject of a feature article in Forbes magazine. There is much more in the way of his achievements, but for me and for his other children and his grandchildren and for my mother, they really do pale in comparison to the experience of Max Morris.
He was a force of nature.
He loved my mother so deeply it amazed me. They could be tempestuous, but then there was never any lack of passion. Even in the last few months, I would often marvel at the way they cared for each other.
For me, above all else, he was Daddy. There are no words for the loss I feel. I just find myself repeating over and over again: Daddy. Daddy. Please. Please. Just one more day.
Funeral services will be held at Christ Church of Orlando, 2200 S. Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32806 on Friday, April 13, 2018 at 11:00, with Pastor Paul Valo officiating.
Visitation will be held at Christ Church of Orlando on Thursday, April 12, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm and on Friday from 10:00 am to 11:00 am.
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