It's hard to imagine how just one person can do it all.
A minister, opera singer and long-time former Mt. Airy resident who spoke about “Centering the Power of Love” at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill before the pandemic is involved in so many humanitarian causes, it's hard to imagine how just one person can do it all.
The Rev. Rhetta Morgan, 63, was ordained by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in Manhattan in 2009, but she was also a professional singer performing internationally for many years. Her intention was to be an opera singer, but she then turned to classical and spiritual music before finding her calling as a minister. (She now sings a kind of hybrid style of folk and gospel.)
Rev. Morgan has been active in the Philadelphia area as founder of the “Ecclesia Spiritual Center” in 2009, an interfaith community that met in East Falls for eight years and will meet again “when it’s safe to meet in person. We will most likely meet in Bucks County or Chestnut Hill when that time comes.”
In 2010 Morgan also started another non-profit, the “While We Wait Project,” which provides spiritual and emotional support to loved ones of incarcerated individuals utilizing song and storytelling “because my son spent time in prison in his 20s. Of course, I was devastated. I couldn’t find many resources for the family members and loved ones of imprisoned people, so I started WWW.”
And she also started a vocal studio named Zenvoice. “I taught in the classical style of singing I was trained in for roughly 20 years, but my life’s healing, musical and spiritual work are now integrated into a form I call the Inner Voice Process. It is a meditative, reflective and healing experience through focus on the singing or speaking voice.”
Rev. Morgan is also a board member of Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) as well as a host of spiritual and environmental causes. And she has been called upon to lead activists in song in various social action protest marches.
Born in Richmond, Virginia, Morgan was raised in Washington, D.C., in a working class family by a schoolteacher mom and a truck driver dad. She lived in Mt. Airy for 12 years starting in 2000 while raising her two children and teaching at the Little People’s Music School. She now lives in Doylestown.
Morgan attended Peabody Conservatory of Music in the late 1970s. With a choral ensemble she traveled to Romania, Paris and many other places singing classical repertoire. “One of my favorite projects was recording with the Lady Chapel Singers, also an opportunity to travel to England, Italy and Germany performing selections from ‘Voices Found,’ a project to bring together music of women composers...
“I have a deep belief and hope that human beings can be better, behave better, take better care of our environment and each other. I believe we can heal what gets in the way of us accessing innovation and restorative practices for the purpose of justice and sustainability. I try to live as if this is so...
“Connection, relationship and hope have brought me the most satisfaction. There is a particular moment when people realize they still have hope or a moment when hope is ignited. This is a moment I live for.”
If Rev. Morgan could meet and spend time with any individuals, living or dead, who would they be and why? “I’d have to choose two people; Harriet Tubman and Paramahansa Yogananda. I’d want to talk to both about liberation from an activist point of view and liberation from a spiritual point of view. I have tried to live in both worlds, draw from both and when possible, bring the two together.
“Both are the epitome of laser consciousness toward the goal of inner or physical freedom. They had bigger than life stories that emerged from such powerful focus on a goal that most people around them didn’t understand was possible. I would love their advice about bringing as much of myself, my gifts to serve as humanly possible before it’s time for me to join them in other realms.”
What is the hardest thing Rev. Morgan has ever done? “The hardest thing has been confronting the parts of my personality that were less than stellar, limiting in some way. To face the underlying woundedness, to forgive myself or someone else and to change my behavior. Always very hard but the most rewarding as well.”
Barbara Sherf contributed to this article. Rev. Morgan can be reached through her Facebook page or at ReverendRhetta@gmail.com