Sylvia Cloud, executive assistant at Heritage Church in Washington C.H., contributed to the following article. It was originally sent as a letter to update the Heritage congregation on the status of senior pastor Bruce Morrison due to his admittance to the OSU hospital earlier this month with COVID-19.
In late September, the Heritage staff was faced with an unexpected and unwelcome visitor in the office — COVID-19. No one knows for sure who let it in, but that isn’t the issue now as swift action was taken to stop the invader’s intrusion in the house.
Please be assured, the spike of cases did not start in the church, nor was it implicated as a source of the multiple cases that prompted the Fayette County Health Department to issue a Red Health Alert last week.
It just happened that several congregants have recently been diagnosed as positive cases, and thankfully, only two have been hospitalized with serious conditions. One is Nina Nash and the other Pastor Bruce Morrison.
Since Pastor Bruce became seriously ill and had to be hospitalized Sunday evening on Oct. 4, his precious wife, Carmen, has been faithful to post Facebook updates for the hundreds of friends, family and churches across the state who have been asking for updates so they know how to specifically pray for this man of God.
We hope that by allowing the community to follow the progression of Pastor Bruce’s health struggle, that community members will be called to pray in unison with the hundreds that have shown their faith in God’s healing power and grace for a cherished man.
On Oct. 4, Carmen posted on social media, “for 32 years, Bruce and I have always had a respectful relationship, and I’ve never had to overrule one of his decisions until just now. I checked him in at OSU Emergency Room, and I couldn’t go with him. He was upset, and it breaks my heart. Please pray they can get his oxygen level up. Also, my niece’s funeral starts in one hour — please pray for my family.”
That evening, Bruce was admitted.
As of Wednesday, Carmen explained in an interview with the Record-Herald that Morrison remains in the ICU at Ohio State.
“He is making slow but some progress, and they are really working hard trying to help him breathe on his own. That’s the goal,” said Carmen. “He’s a very healthy, vibrant, passionate pastor. He really believes that we can make a positive difference in our community by having people connect to God and that’s our whole mission — being a bridge between people and God, and just helping people through whatever life circumstances they have. That’s his life passion. He’s not used to being the one getting help.”
Bruce has been unable to have visitors per hospital policy.
“That makes it really hard not having any family there to support him and encourage him. The nurses though, they understand that, and they try really hard to give you that support person for him. We don’t know when we’ll get to see him. We are just waiting for him to make progress,” she said.
The nurses have told Carmen that Pastor Bruce has received a large number of cards in the hospital, and that they know he is very loved.
“It’s very heartwarming how the whole community has really prayed for him,” said Carmen. “This virus isn’t a respecter of persons. It’s young and old. It affects people in different ways. It got a strong hold on Bruce, but we believe God is going to help him overcome it.”
October is annually recognized as Pastor Appreciation Month, but who would ever have dreamed that we would be made fully aware of how much we truly appreciate our pastoral staff, wrote Cloud.
Just this past Sunday, several local churches in Washington C.H. asked their congregants to drive to Heritage following their own morning services, drive in and either park or stand outside their cars to pray for Pastor Bruce.
The outpouring from the community has been amazing in the show of respect, love and concern for Pastor Bruce and Carmen and their family, especially in light of the timing of his health crisis, which came simultaneously as a near and dear young niece was tragically killed in a car accident.
According to head elder Larry Lane, “Bruce is passionate about his work with the Lord and is very compassionate with people. He is an individual that ministers a lot of young men and gives guidance. He also does a lot of counseling and gives tremendous advice to anybody — he bases it all on the Bible and his relationship with our Father in Heaven. He is just one tremendous individual in our great community here. Personally, to me, of the top three men in my life, he is probably one of them.”
“It’s hard to stay patient. They keep reminding me it takes a long time to get through this virus,” said Carmen. “If everybody will just please continue to keep praying for him — not just pray but pray with belief that God is going to bring complete healing to him and he’ll be back in the pulpit soon.”
Heritage Church has been diligent in cleaning and preparing the church facilities for the congregation and youth meetings, and most folks have been faithful to social distancing and wearing masks when in close proximity. So too, the Community Center at Rose Avenue was properly caring for the ministries ongoing, but both locations have quickly addressed how to stem the tide of cases. Rose Avenue promptly took action, including closing the center for two weeks, except for the after school program for children who count on that meal through the week.