St. John the Theologian Orthodox Church
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Fr. Daniel Morton

Father Daniel Morton is a native of St. Louis. He was born in October of 1953 and lived just at the edge of “The Hill” (Hampton and Manchester) until 1961. His family then moved to southern California where he grew up, graduated from high school, and, in 1971 entered the military (US Army). After an honorable discharge he returned home. In the summer of 1975 he met his wife-to-be, Laura Evans.

In the same year he also dedicated his life to Christ. He enrolled at Biola University in the fall of 1975 and majored in Biblical Studies. For the next three years he spent his summers on the mission fields of Eastern Europe carrying bibles and other Christian literature into the eastern block countries behind the Iron Curtain. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies in December 1979. Daniel and Laura were married in June of 1980. He began graduate studies in the fall of 1980 and the International School of Theology, graduating in June of 1983 with a Master of Divinity. Not having had his fill of school, in the fall of 1987 he enrolled in the Classics program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). In 1989 he completed the BA in the Classics. In June of 1991 graduated from UCI with a Master of Arts in the Classics. Now and then you can get him to admit that he knows “a little bit” of ancient Greek.

But June of 1991 is when the real story begins. He and his family had moved to Santa Cruz, California (Felton actually). They happened to rent a house right in the middle of a community of Orthodox Christians. They became very good friends with many of their neighbors, but especially with a certain deacon and his wife. Daniel and Laura spent hours and hours drilling the unfortunate couple with theological questions. Daniel and Laura were haunted by the answers because they made too much sense. There was a deep resonance of truth in them. The answers filled in too many of the blanks in their evangelical Protestant world view. The theological foundation under them began to crack. They knew that they had to get off of the shifting sand. There was only one place to go. They began attending Orthodox services in 1992 at the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church where they were catechized by Father Joseph Strzelecki. He didn’t go easy on them. Two years later they were received into the Orthodox Church at Theophany in 1994. But then the story becomes even more interesting.

They moved back to St. Louis in January of 1994 (yes, right after they were received) and began attending the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church where, in June of that year, the same Father Joseph Strzelecki had been transferred. Over the course of eleven years Daniel served in various capacities at the Assumption: chanter, Sunday school teacher, altar boy advisor (a “man in black”, as they are affectionately called), bookstore manager, church tour guide, catechist, etc. He never viewed himself as any sort of pioneer. But apparently, our Lord saw things differently. In the fall of 2003 he and his wife became part of the initial group that helped established the first Antiochian church in Missouri, All Saints of North America, located in St. Louis.

He was ordained as deacon on January 6, 2007 and then to the holy priesthood on December 30, 2007. In September of 2008 he was assigned to oversee the St. John the Theologian Orthodox mission in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. This was the second mission in which he played a significant role in founding. Fr. Daniel would like to see 5 or 6 Antiochian mission in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. There is certainly enough room and there is a lot of work to be done.

Father Daniel and Presbytera Laura have two children, a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law. Their daughter, Abigail, was married to Gregory Nahlik on December 28, 2007. Their son, Jesse, was married to Jessica Petit on September 2, 2012. Father Daniel and Presbytera Laura also have a fish tank and several fish. Other than cycling his hobbies include reading the bible, spiritual books, the holy Fathers, the lives of the saints, and going to church.

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