Bookmark and Share

Blackwell and Morgan mark significant anniversaries - reflect on their long friendship

June 4, 2013

By W. James Edminson, Editor

For some people, friendships form the first time they meet. They really can’t put their fingers on why they hit it off from the start, but nevertheless, there is almost an instantaneous connection. For Dr. Michael Blackwell and Linda Morgan, their friendship was immediate.

“I knew we would be friends the first time I walked into the office at Broyhill Home after becoming president in 1983,” Blackwell says.

Morgan agrees. “Even at that time, I knew we would be friends. I was struck by the fact that he had a plan for God’s work to continue, and I saw that he was what we needed at the time. I realized from the beginning that he was called to this ministry and had a vision.”

Morgan was the secretary in the administration office at Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) western campus. She was hired in 1973 when she was only 19 years old.

“Linda was the one-person welcoming committee when I walked in the door,” Blackwell remembers. “When I became president, she had already been here for ten years and was recognized for her love for the ministry. Even as a young woman, she was known by many as ‘Miss Broyhill.’”

Morgan says her feelings for Blackwell were confirmed as they began to share their faith. The first bond that they shared was their deep faith and belief in the Lord.

“Dr. Blackwell asserted from the beginning that we would work to provide the presence of God in the lives of children and families,” Morgan says. “His passion for the ministry was the first thread that tied us together.”

Now as they both observe milestones in their service – 40-year anniversary for Morgan and Blackwell marking 30 years as president, the two reflect on their friendship, their longevity and their ideas on leadership.

Morgan says that she and Blackwell both have a strong focus on building relationships. “He is a relationship person,” she says, “I’m a relationship person. That focus on relationships is the starting place for being successful over time.”

“She has been building relationships for 40 years and I have been building them for 30 years – and years before I became president.” Blackwell says. “It takes time to establish strong friendships and for people to recognize that you can be trusted and that you are in it for the long haul.”

They both say that their longevity is built on the relationships they have fostered over the years.

“As president, you have to make tough decisions sometimes,” Blackwell says. “If your friends, supporters and staff see that you are with them in the good times, they will stick with you when the harder times come and trust you to make the right decisions.”

Morgan agrees. She says that staff members have learned over time that Blackwell can be trusted. “Dr. Blackwell has stepped out in faith time and time again. When the decisions are made, he has our loyalty.”

Trust goes both ways, the two state.

Morgan is now the lead area director for all of Baptist Children’s Homes. From secretary, she became administrative assistant and then director of campus life at Broyhill Home. From that responsibility, she became director of residential services and then the western area director.

Blackwell recalls the time when Morgan, as area director, asked her staff in the west why they chose to work many years for BCH.

“What did they say?” he asked Morgan.

“They told me they stay because I trust them to do their jobs,” she answered. “That level of trust that we have – me for them and them for me – amazes me.”

Blackwell believes there is a necessity for solid leaders at BCH. He says that without great leadership, staff members will be rudderless.

“An organization needs someone who will be strong and steady,” Blackwell says. “You have to provide a safe port for people. You can navigate change and face a myriad of challenges when a good leader is at the helm.”

“That’s very important,” Morgan agrees.

Blackwell has challenged the 60-year-old Morgan to consider being a part of BCH for another ten years. “Imagine, fifty years will not ever be matched.”

“I don’t know what the future holds,” Morgan says, “but I don’t think you will ever have another 30-year president. Dr. Blackwell is BCH’s longest termed president. He has had the Master’s touch and he has been the keeper of the faith.”

In closing, the duo share a final affirmation.

“I chose to do this interview with Linda because she needed to be honored for her 40th anniversary,” Blackwell affirms. “I have 30 years and she has 40 years. It made sense. Our relationship has grown and the trust we share has grown. I wanted to be in her company.”

“And I wanted to be in his,” Morgan says.