DECATUR, GA—The community is mourning the loss of Bishop James H. Morton, Sr., pastor of New Beginning Full Gospel Baptist Church, Decatur. Bishop Morton died on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the age of 66. He was known locally and nationally for not only his preaching but also his singing talents, forming collaborations with gospel greats including the late Aretha Franklin.
Bishop James Harold Morton was born May 8, 1946, the fourth of nine children to Bishop C.L. Morton, Sr. and Evangelist Matilda Morton in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
His desire to serve the Lord was realized at an early age, when at 8 years old his father overheard him singing the song, ‘You Can’t Beat God Giving’ and was so moved that he asked the young James to lead the church in singing the song the following Sunday. While under the pastoral leadership of his father, he perfected his craft as a gifted musician and skilled singer serving as the minister of music. His musical prowess became widely known throughout the Greater Michigan area, opening doors for him to serve as the music director for the late Rev. C.L. Franklin.
James answered the call to preach the Gospel in 1968, and on Father’s Day, June 16 of that same year, he preached his first sermon at the Mount Zion Church of God in Christ, in Detroit, Michigan. His first sermon was entitled, ‘Gone with the Wind,’ and though he was a formidable singer and accomplished musician, it was obvious to everyone that James Harold Morton was indeed a man called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People came from all over the metropolitan area to hear Rev. James Morton.
In 1970, he became pastor of the True Faith Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, serving there until 1984. The winds of change would shift him from Michigan to Atlanta, Georgia, where he would assume the pastorate of Thankful Baptist Church in 1984. One of the most pivotal ministerial transitions of his life took place on the second Sunday in August 1993. With a congregation of 1,400 members ready to follow the Pastor as he followed Christ, the New Beginning Full Gospel Baptist Church was born.
For a little more than nine months, weekly worship services for New Beginning were held in the Decatur High School gym. In what could only be described as a providentially synchronized dance between God’s plan and timing, on June 5, 1994, Rev. Morton, led the New Beginning congregation from the gym of Decatur High School to their current edifice located at 923 Valley Brook Road, in Decatur, Georgia. Under his leadership, the New Beginning Full Gospel Baptist Church grew exponentially, offering over 50 ministries to meet the needs of all people, and building the Kingdom of God.
In August 1994, Rev. Morton was consecrated to the Office of Bishop within the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International, under the leadership of his brother, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Sr.
Utilizing his ever-expanding platform, Bishop James Morton’s dynamic and anointed preaching was in high demand, taking him across the country to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his musical talents, lending his vocal gift on collaborations with Aretha Franklin, Bishop Carlton Pearson and the Azusa Mass Choir, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Bishop William Murphy, III., the late Rev. James Cleveland, and a multiplicity of others.
In one of his most noted sermons, Bishop James Morton spoke passionately of ‘The Land of No More,’ referring to the scripture found in Revelation 21:4 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there by any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” In this sermon he spoke of absolute peace and utopia the believer could expect when they would finally enter into God’s presence for eternity.
Bishop Morton was the proud father of James Morton, II, Kimberly Morton Powell, and Jason Morton, and a host of grandchildren whom he adored.
The Morton Family and the New Beginning Full Gospel Baptist Church will celebrate Bishop Morton’s life and legacy with a public viewing on Friday, Feb. 24, noon to 9 p.m., and a viewing on Feb. 25, at 10 a.m. followed by a celebration of life service at noon. The viewings and service will be held at the New Beginning Full Gospel Baptist Church, 923 Valley Brook Road, Decatur. All are welcome to attend and show their respects.