THE ICON: Bishop Paul S. Morton
THE LEGACY: From the pulpit, through his music, via the written word and in weekly televised sermons, Bishop Paul Morton built Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church into the biggest church in Louisiana, with 20,000 to 30,000 members who worshiped at as many as seven weekend services at three sites around the New Orleans area. Then came 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, followed by a 2008 fire that wiped out the church’s rebuilt home. But Morton and his wife, Elder Debra Morton, showed they were nothing if not resilient. While she led services in New Orleans, he started preaching in Atlanta to worshipers who included many New Orleans evacuees. He still preachers there today. Although the churches are separate geographically, the Mortons share each other’s pulpit, continuing to spread the word, inspire their flock and lift the spirits of legions of faithful New Orleanians.
THE ARTIST: Jessica Strahan
THE INSPIRATION: “Our purpose is to change a generation. We have to do it and we have to do it now. We can’t put spirituality on the back burner.” — Bishop Paul Morton, speaking at the 1998 Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship Conference in New Orleans. He was the conference’s presiding bishop