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Pastor marries fiancee, church same weekend

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Dec. 5, 2011 at 6:05 a.m.

Rev. Montari Morrison, center, laughs with Samuel Bass, left, and C.R. Williams before the start of a service Sunday in Victoria. This weekend proved eventful for Morrison, who married Saturday and was installed as the pastor at Greater Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday.

The Rev. Montari Morrison got hitched twice this weekend - first with fiancee Tasha Morrison, then with Greater Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Victoria.

The 29-year-old Houston-based pastor married his 24-year-old bride Saturday morning during a surprise midnight ceremony. The following day, Mt. Calvary welcomed Montari as their senior pastor during a sacred ceremonial installation service.

"I didn't think there was a better time to have the wedding," said Montari. "It's a time of marriage with the church, so to speak, and along with a marriage to my beautiful bride."

The morning the pair wed, Tasha believed she was joining her fiance for a late night bite at Houston's Town and Country Village. What she didn't know was Montari arranged for his friend, the Rev. Dr. F. L. Fillmore to marry them in a private ceremony of three.

"It was just the two of us with the pastor. I was told we were going to get something to eat, and I was like OK, cool. I'm down to eat," Tasha giggled.

"I was throwing her off with other conversations, acting real normal like nothing was going on. And the whole time I had my friend on the phone giving him directions on how to get there," the young pastor said. "I was excited to be moving in this direction in my life."

Fillmore would perform a second marriage ceremony for Montari that weekend, overseeing his installation service at Mt. Calvary the following day.

"He's a close friend of mine, and I served with him at Northland Baptist Church," Montari said. "He's the one installing me."

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor, District Attorney Steve Tyler and Coucilwoman Denise Rangel also attended the service.

When the couple hosts their official wedding reception in July, Fillmore will preside once again, they said.

But while Montari's pastor post and husband role is indeed new, the Mt. Pleasant native has deep-rooted ties to Mt. Calvary Baptist.

"I'm actually a fourth generation pastor here," he said.

Montari's father, the Rev. Dr. Lester David Morrison; grandfather, the Rev. Dr. Willie Morrison; and great-grandfather, the Rev. Elijah Morrison, each headed the quaint one-story church on Callis Street.

"Growing up in the church and seeing my dad pastor, I kind of always had that ambition on the inside of me," he said. "But I didn't start preaching until February of 2007 at the age of 25. It took me a while to get there, but this is my calling. This is my purpose in life."

How does he know it's his calling?

"No. 1 because I would do it for free. I wake up in the morning thinking about it and continue thinking about it throughout the day. It's just my pleasure. That's what it is," Montari said.

Tasha said she always knew her husband would eventually lead his own church. And she remembers telling her mother early in the pair's relationship that she would leave her home church, Greater New Grove Christian Worship Center - the church where the couple first met three years ago - when Montari branched out on his own.

"He's a phenomenal teacher and preacher, and I'm not just saying that because he's my husband," Tasha said.

With so many new beginnings, Montari and Tasha said they are thrilled to begin their new journey as husband and wife, as well as Mt. Calvary's head couple.

"I am pretty young. But I would love to go on record and say in seven months time there will be a dramatic change in this church," he said. "I'm not talking about this framework. I'm talking about our attitudes, the people we impact. There will be a real shift in the community."

Montari and Tasha have big hopes for their new church, and humbly recognize the gravity of their new roles. And no matter what, they want to have a positive union with the church, the community and each other.

"The message I want to get out is that with this union, it's not about a career move for Pastor Morrison ... It's about us coming together, so we can have a positive impact on this community," Montari said.



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