My hero all these years has been John Wayne… little known as Marion Morrison. I always liked him because of what he stood for and how he lived his life. There is another Marion in my life. He was a United Methodist pastor, District Superintendent, colleague and friend. Marion died Thursday afternoon at Cone hospital with complications from a stroke. Our son called to let us know and then we saw it popping up all over Facebook. Everyone spoke about this man of God.
I first met Marion Workman when he and Howard Allred conspired (as District Superintendents) to move me to my first appointment after seminary – Triplett UMC in Mooresville. From there Marion moved to Greensboro to become the pastor at Centenary UMC. After only about three years there he had a stroke and decided that it was time to retire.
He and Mary moved back to Pleasant Garden and began attending PGUMC (which they had served many years ago). It was a homecoming for them as the people opened their arms and hearts to welcome them home.
I was privileged to serve PGUMC for 8 years while Marion and Mary were in that congregation. And I really mean privileged because Marion was one of the wisest men I have ever known. He was gracious and caring. His thoughts went much deeper than I even thought to go. He cared deeply about the church. His smile always went before him… what a great smile that came all the way from the heart. He was a great mentor and friend.
The loss of Marion Workman to PGUMC is great because I believe he is the heart and soul of that church. We all looked to him as that constant example of faith and life, grace and love, discipleship and devotion. As we looked to him he always pointed us beyond himself to God above.
I have always loved how he spoke about the “heavenly country.” I had never heard that phrase till I got to PGUMC. And when Marion used theses words: “Heavenly Country” he spoke from his soul as if he had been there. You could hear it in his voice. I know he is now in that heavenly country with all the wholeness, love and peace it brings.
Now there is one thing we all will remember. When he and Mary were in different high schools they were both on the debating team. Neither one liked to lose a debate. This filtered into their marriage. When they had a discussion that would not end, Marion devised a way to allow the debate to be over without anyone losing. He would finally say to Mary: “You may be right.” That became a real joke around the church. They loved to laugh and carry on a lot of fun stuff.
We will miss them terribly at PGUMC. We are saddened by our loss but excited for Marion as he stepped into the heavenly country. God bless you Marion, and thank you for all your love and care for us all these years. You truly have been a God-send.
Till we meet again, my friend.