Last month Ipswich lost one of its most loved church and community leaders. Pastor Alan Morris joined Shiloh Church in 1982 as youth pastor at the age of 24, was senior minister at the age of 39, and faithfully served his church and the Goodna-Redbank Plains area with distinction for 37 years.
He devoted his life to sharing the speech and action of the belief in God’s unchanging love for every person.
Alan was born at Ipswich Hospital on April 7, 1958, son of Ivy Morris (nee Ross) and David Morris.
Shortly after Alan was born the family moved to Hobart for a few years, returning to Queensland in 1965.
By 1966 Alan attended Dinmore State School where he became dux of the school.
His sporting endeavours included playing football for Dinmore School and St Helens. He represented Ipswich in intrastate school competitions. As a demonstration of his broader talents he performed at Ipswich eisteddfods, learnt to play the violin and could pick up any instrument and play it.
Alan attended Ipswich Central Assemblies of God, now Centro Church. He was a key leader in the early years of Youth Alive at Festival Hall, heading up the music and sound teams. He even set up a full recording studio at home.
High school years began at newly opened Bundamba State High in 1971. Alan was a second year intake and was nicknamed ‘Max’ by his school friends, a reference to Maxwell Smart in the TV show Get Smart.
On the sports field he represented Queensland schoolboys in football and spent his teen and young adult life playing church football, winning so many titles that press clippings from day featured a photo of him and teammates “needing a wheelbarrow” to take all the trophies home from an award ceremony.
Before dedicating his life to the ministry he turned down an offer to play for Brisbane Lions in the Phillips League, the forerunner to the A League.
At university Alan earned a science degree in chemistry, then honours and master’s degrees at the University of Queensland. He had papers published on X-ray crystallography, then undertook research into fluoride at the university’s Dental Department.
Ultimately the service of God was to be his life. He was proud to pastor of a church with one of the largest cross-cultural representations in Australia. He preferred not to call it multiculturalism, but Kingdom Culture – a church where all nations could join as one to worship.
Alan believed politics and religion should be kept separate.
Alan introduced many innovations and new services to the community through the church.
One of the most visible is the annual Christmas Spectacular, but perhaps some of his most important included Fresh Fruits which later became Miracle Month – an opportunity for the congregation to support various projects in the wider community.
Projects like Goodna Youth Service, The Base Support Services, and local schools.
Shiloh Christian Care shines as a beacon of his vision to be Christ in the community. It now provides free food parcels for around 2500 families in need every year.
Monday the 10th of January 2011 was a day forever etched in the memory of Alan Morris. He was on a day off and became aware of flood warnings for parts of Redbank and Goodna.
At about 11am he was asked by police to open the church as an evacuation centre. A previously earmarked location was deemed unsuitable owing to its proximity to the predicted flooding.
Alan responded to the request immediately and swung into action working the phones to get staff and volunteers to the church as soon as possible.
From 12.30pm the first 40 evacuees arrived from Goodna Caravan Park.
In the subsequent hours, days and weeks Alan Morris organised, delegated and wrangled help from wherever he could while the number of registered evacuees peaked around 250 to 300.
All of this was achieved when at no time the church was designated as a recovery centre prior to the flood.
Alan compiled a diary of the events. His notes were made available for debrief after the flood and identified areas that can be improved upon.
He said after the flood that he had no previous dealings with local government concerning disaster management or have the church recognised as a disaster recovery centre, however as the flood event escalated quickly, his leadership qualities came to the fore.
Alan Morris successfully navigated the church and community though a time of crisis. The community will be forever grateful for his presence during the flood.
The words of his brother David best sum up his character.
“Alan Morris.. brother, son, friend and father figure, scientist, sportsman and pastor…always a winner. Never has there been one more brave; or driven by personal conviction.”