The days keep getting shorter but the temperatures rose after several frosty and freezing mornings at our hometown getting ready for Halloween, hauntings, and time change November 1.
Before I continue our talk with preacher Jimmy Morrow let me explain that next week we will take a detour to Ma & Pa’s General Store not far from White Pine and then return to learn more about Jimmy and Pamela Morrow. Also I got a chance for a tasty and ample lunch at the Indian Creek Market and Deli where I met Kathy Frye, the manager. I have visited there before but not for lunch. (I had the pulled pork and some of J. B. Etherton’s french fries.) The popular business distributes our tourist magazine, Visiting the Smokies.
The lunch came about because that late morning I met with Pat Patrick and J. B. Etherton about upcoming events at the Hills Union United Methodist Church. The church plans its annual luminary ceremony for November 7. If you haven’t seen it, then you might want to visit that evening even if you do not have friends or relatives buried in the 125-year-old cemetery. The Plain Talk will have a story about this in early November.
Horse fell on Jimmy
If you are uncomfortable with snakes and don’t care to hear about serpent handling in churches, then you need to stop now and come back reading in a week or two. Jimmy Morrow’s father, Albert Morrow, was a devout man who married Ruth Arrington. Jimmy was born about 1955 at Raven’s Branch. When you talk to Jimmy, you go on many different trails and off-shoots as he talks about family members, such as Grandpa Charlie Morrow, a moonshiner who was shot to death.
I asked Jimmy what he recalls from his childhood so far as church, and he said that when he was six he began preaching, even getting a vision. He spent years growing up in the Old Fifteenth and is fond of the history from that community. He survived a horse falling on him when he was 13. He remembers an important teacher, Gladys Pack Turner, who taught him when he was homebound after the accident. He never got any more than an eighth grade education but has never quit learning. As he said, “Jesus taught me.”
The Morrow family
The family has always farmed, usually as sharecroppers. Got up early, worked hard, prayed, went to bed early, church on Sunday– a way of life that has vanished in many areas. One thing he keenly remembers was first meeting his future wife, Pamela Ford. Jimmy was 18 and she was 13. He fell hard for her but knew they had to wait years before marriage, when she turned 18. They married on July 8, 1978. Reverend Marvin Turner–“my best friend”–married them at Flat Branch. So they have been married about 37 years and have no children, he still calls her “my baby doll.”
A quiet woman, supportive of Jimmy and his ministry, she is the daughter of John Ike Ford, who was married to the former Bonnie Pierce. Pamela was raised in the Old Fifteenth at the foot of Round Mountain where Doc Smith delivered her. Jimmy chimed in that Dr. B. Parker Ford, not a medical doctor, delivered him. “We were house babies,” which was not uncommon in rural Cocke County into the 1950s. You have to recall that this was a time when Jim Franks, as general manager, was leading Newport Utilities Board to rural electrification.
If I count correctly, there were seven children in the Morrow family and all living except brother Donald, who died from cancer about four years ago. His sisters are Imma Jean Sheets, of North Carolina; Wanda Sparks, a Plain Talk paper carrier from Raven’s Branch; and Karen Mantooth. His brothers are Benny and Timothy, who live at Edwina.
As a young man, Jimmy preached at many churches such as or at Sand Hill, Thompson Branch, Marshall, North Carolina. He even did evangelistic preaching in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Kentucky. Not only does he know a lot of local history and genealogy, but church history too, especially about the church family closest to him, in Jesus Name. He credits Jesus with founding the church and said the particular holiness brand existed as far back as the colonies in America. He talked about the Tinker family in Cocke County who wore banners proclaiming the Church in Jesus Name.
Wearing the banner
The solid color sweatshirts with no sleeves blazoned with hand-painted Bible verses and references to Jesus Christ are what he refers to as banners. When I first saw him at the Plain Talk to photograph him with his state appreciation certificate, he was wearing a black shirt with red and white lettering. At their Edwina church he had on a black shirt with white lettering. I presume he did the lettering and does a lot of artwork, as I will tell you more about, such as his handmade Tinker dolls. Of course they are holding bright yellow-stripped snakes.
The church is not easy to find but people from other nations find it. Turn off Edwina Highway onto Maple and follow some handmade signs. If you turn right you might end up at the Buddhist Peace Pagoda. Stick to the left on Bloom Drive. The church, a small kitchen cabin, picnic pavilion sit on slightly elevated ground sloping uphill to where a future graveyard may be. Albert Morrow bought the Ford land and donated it to the church. The Morrows and church members built the small frame church about 22 years ago.
To Be Continued....