Revd David Morris MBE, who served people who were homeless in Leicester for over 50 years, died on 30 April 2022 aged 83.
He was born in Hereford in 1938, being the son of missionaries who served in the UK and Africa, where David always longed to return.
David came to Leicester as a young minister in the 1960s, he arrived a few weeks early for his job at the Congregational Church in Newby Street and found himself without anywhere to sleep, staying at the YMCA until the church could place him in a house. This experience of sharing a room with a man who was homeless started his 50-year journey into living with and supporting people who were vulnerable and homeless in Leicester.
His first church in Newby Street, which later became Charnwood URC, soon started a daily breakfast for homeless people. The breakfast went on for several years and other projects launched from it including Leicester's first night shelter on New Walk.
Other like-minded people began to join David, to help those who desperately needed housing in the city. It was not long before David joined with David Carter to found Action Homeless at Mayfield House, that is still supporting people today.
As the work continued, it became obvious to David that there was a group of people in Leicester that needed a true place of refuge where they could be nurtured and develop their physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The streets of Leicester had people with no hope, who were the most “damaged” and who were the least likely to sustain accommodation even if they were offered it. David announced that,
“We need to attempt to create and sustain something like home and family (or household and community) with and for people who have long since lost their own home, or even never really had one, and to keep up that attempt with each person for as long as they need.”
In December 1987 David’s vision came into being when he created the first mission project of the United Reformed Church, The Community of Grace, a charity that offers refuge to those most in need.
David wanted people to know that there were people who really loved them, who really wanted them and for them to know that they too are the children of God.
At the millennium David received an MBE for his long service to homeless people in Leicester. David’s response was that he was not special: but his character was one of great faith mixed with stubbornness. He had his critics. There were those who questioned his charitable works, and commented on the amateurishness of some of his projects, and his refusal to play the political game; though, of course, there are many others including the people whom he helped who maintain that he worked the system to maximum advantage for the benefit of those who were most in need.
David carried on living at the community until 2021 when he needed more specialist support, aged 82. David, in his later years, laid down a vision to create a Supportive CoHousing Community with shared space for people to support each other in community, working the land together to provide sustenance and a shared purpose. So David’s work and legacy will continue into the future with Community of Grace and GraceWorks Gardens currently working together to form Leicestershire’s first CoHousing Community.
A final, fitting memorial to Revd David Morris in words from St. Teresa, mother to the poor,
“Very often as we live, so we die. Death is nothing but a continuation of life, the completion of life: the surrendering of the human body. But the heart and the soul live for ever. They do not die. Every religion has got eternity: another life. This life is not the end: people who believe it is, fear death. If it were properly explained that death was nothing but going home to God, then there would be no fear.
Death is nothing else but going home to God, the bond of love will be unbroken for all eternity.”
David, welcome home.
There will be a celebration of David’s life at:
Wycliffe United Reformed Church, The Common, Evington, LE5 6EA
2pm, Saturday 18 June 2022
A memorial fund has been set up in remembrance of David to donate please go to: