Excerpt: "[Ben] realized his calling in life would be to persuade people to embrace …"
Ben Morgan was born July 13, 1965, in Raleigh, North Carolina where his father, Vernon Morgan, was a Baptist minister. His mother, Charlotte, cared for Ben and his sister, Alicia, who was two years older than he. Charlotte participated in the church women's activities, taught Sunday School, and assisted her husband in his ministry with all the traditional duties of a pastor's wife.
Ben became accustomed to many hours of church-going at an early age, and unlike many "preacher's kids," did not rebel at following the rules of his church and of his strict father. He thrived on routine and structure. He actively participated in activities and church organizations with the children and youth of his church.
An excellent student, Ben found that the other students, as well as the teachers, paid attention when he spoke, even if they didn't like what he was saying. He learned it wasn't what you say but how you say it that made it palatable.
He found it difficult to understand why everybody didn't think as he did, but he thrived on arguing his position. As he matured, he realized his calling in life would be to persuade people to embrace his philosophies, but his conservative views often made it a challenge.
He became interested in public speaking and was a star member of his high school debate team. He prized his 4.0 GPA and worked hard to be at the top of his class. He graduated as valedictorian of his class.
In college at Campbell University, Ben toyed with the idea of going into politics so took political science and history courses, but he found them constricting. Instead, he began taking more business courses. He combined his gift of gab with his business acumen and graduated with a BA in Business Administration.
Ben always did well with girls. He wasn't bad looking, had a winning personality, and young women found his persuasive speaking style pleasing. But he never got serious about his dates because none of them quite measured up to his standards of intelligence and proper social and political beliefs.
Then in the summer before his senior year, he met Patience Chapman at a national church conference. He found Patience to be intelligent, articulate, and in possession of the social and political beliefs that the other young women he'd met had lacked.
Patience was a student at Blue Mountain College in northeastern Mississippi and was starting her junior year. They stayed in contact during the school year and visited each other as often as possible during vacations and breaks.
By the time Ben graduated, he and Patience were deeply in love, but they decided to postpone marriage until he had a secure job and was financially able to support a family. They both believed in abstinence until marriage, and they viewed the separation as a blessing and a chance for them to prove their faith and commitment to each other.
After getting his degree, Ben was offered a job in a successful Raleigh insurance agency owned by a long-time friend of his father. He enjoyed the work and found that his personality, gift of gab, and powers of persuasion were assets in his job. With his many church and community connections, he did well.
Patience graduated from Blue Mountain in 1989 and went to work in her hometown of Oxford as a schoolteacher.
Back in his hometown after college, Ben found his father's church was not always in agreement with his increasingly conservative social, political and religious philosophies, so he sought a church that fit his ideals. He discovered an independent church that had been founded by Pastor Thurman George and became deeply involved.
When Pastor George wanted to move to Mississippi to be closer to his friends, the Wildmons, he decided to establish a new church in Oxford. He invited Ben to go with him because he felt Ben's gift for persuasion and his unwavering faith would help develop a strong congregation and build their church following. Ben accepted eagerly. He welcomed the challenge of founding a new church as well as the opportunity to be close to Patience.
The following year, Patience and Ben were married in the newly established First Church of Oxford. Although building a new church supported his new family spiritually, it didn't support them financially, so Ben opened his own insurance agency in Oxford, The Morgan Insurance Group. Within a few years, the business was doing well enough that Patience was able to leave her job and concentrate on starting a family.
Ben Junior was born in June 1992, followed by Grace in September 1995. During their early school years, their mother home-schooled them because Ben and Patience didn't want their innocent children misled by the teachings of the public school system. In 2005, the First Church of Oxford established their own school with Patience as principal, and the Morgan children completed their schooling there.
With his business well-established, Ben had more time for community involvement and twice ran for Yoknapatawpha County School Board. He was unsuccessful, partly due to his ultra-conservative philosophy and partly because he lacked credibility since his children were privately schooled.
In 2013, he turned his attention to a new organization, Concerned Oxford Parents (COP), which was started and chaired by Claire Windham. Over the next few years, the group pursued many goals including campaigning against sex education in schools, increasing community awareness about the dangers of certain children's books, and pushing for stricter enforcement of the age restrictions at local movie theatres. They didn't accomplish everything Ben would have liked, but they were instrumental in ensuring the indictment and prosecution of Andrea Stover, which he felt was an important step in the right direction.
When Claire Windham was elected mayor of Oxford, Ben took over as president of COP. By the time Andrea Stover had completed her jail sentence and returned to the community as an ex-con and registered sex offender, COP was poised to focus their attention on her once again to stop her and stop Oxtales' next production. They were actively protesting her her "immoral presence" in the community when she was found dead.