Welcome to the Rivers & Lakes Presbytery website. We are delighted to tell you about ourselves and to invite you to participate with us in Christ’s mission.
Dick Natrop, Moderator
Ruling Elder, Highview EPC
Mary Gertrude Morton and Gene Morton
Mary Gertrude Morton and her brother, Gene, are elders and lifelong members of Romine Prairie Presbyterian Church in Kell, Illinois. They are also seventh-generation Presbyterians tracing their family roots to Scotch-Irish immigrants in South Carolina prior to the American Revolution. In every generation of the Morton family there has been a ruling elder.
Mary and Gene know little about the man (or his wife) who left Ireland to settle in the colonies, but they know his son, Thomas, was one of the first elders of the Covenanter congregation in Chester County, South Carolina, that was organized in 1789. Thomas served in the Revolutionary Army. His son, Alexander, moved to Lincoln County, Tennessee, and helped start the Hephzibah congregation. James Morton, Mary and Gene’s great-grandfather, continued the westward migration and settled on the Illinois prairie before the Civil War and helped establish what became Romine Prairie Presbyterian Church.
Romine Prairie has always been a small rural congregation located outside of the very small town of Kell with its own cemetery and surrounded by cornfields. Both Mary and Gene were baptized as infants and have spent their adult lives in that church and in that community. Neither of them have married. Both were schoolteachers, Mary in elementary school, and Gene a high school music teacher. By the time they became elders, the congregation could no longer afford a full-time pastor and has relied on stated supply for Sunday morning preaching. Ruling elders have kept the church functioning for decades.
To this day they still worship every Sunday and maintain a presence and witness in the surrounding community. Mary and Gene are in their 80s, but Mary continues to serve as clerk of Session and Gene plays the organ or the piano every Sunday morning.
This past year Romine Presbyterian made the decision to enter the EPC and start another chapter in their long history. It may have been that Old Covenanter spirit that moved the congregation to take a stand for the Gospel and the Confession and biblical preaching. Their resources may be limited, but they bring a heritage of perseverance and faithfulness to Christ to our presbytery. Rivers & Lakes Presbytery welcomes them as a gift of God to us.