Scott Morris, M.D., M.Div.

Dr. Scott Morris is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Church Health in Memphis, which opened in 1987 to provide quality, affordable healthcare for working, uninsured people and their families. Thanks to a broad base of financial support from the faith community, and the volunteered help of doctors, nurses, dentists and others, Church Health has grown to become the largest faith-based clinic of its type in the nation. Since inception, Church Health has cared for over 70,000 patients and had over 54,000 patient visits in FY2018.

Dr. Morris has an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, a Master of Divinity degree from Yale University, and M.D. from Emory University. He is a board-certified family practice physician and an ordained United Methodist minister.

Disarming Fear

I was watching the Olympic trials last night when the local news broke in showing people blocking the bridge over the Mississippi River. A Black Lives Matter rally had turned into an act of civil disobedience of blocking traffic on I-40. It was remarkable to see this...

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Remembering Harry Peel

Harry Peel was a drummer. He played what John Kilzer sometimes referred to as a ”big bongo.” I loved to listen to his playing, but I was also one of his doctors.
I have to be honest: Harry was a terrible patient. He would nod along in agreement whenever I told him he needed to improve his lifestyle to better-manage his diabetes and his heart disease, but I knew he was probably not going to do it. He marched to his own beat. After all, he was a drummer.

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Remembering Harry Peel

Harry Peel was a drummer. He played what John Kilzer sometimes referred to as a ”big bongo.” I loved to listen to his playing, but I was also one of his doctors.

I have to be honest: Harry was a terrible patient. He would nod along in agreement whenever I told him he needed to improve his lifestyle to better-manage his diabetes and his heart disease, but I knew he was probably not going to do it. He marched to his own beat. After all, he was a drummer.

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The Radical Act of Cultivating Love

When I was in the eighth grade in 1968, I had the only fist fight I have ever had in my life. I started it, but for the life of me I cannot remember why.

It happened after football practice. I was the quarterback of my team. One of my teammates, Ben, had been a Pop Warner All-American football player when he was 12. I guess that put a chip on his shoulder. For some reason he irritated me.

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Welcoming the Stranger Is Always the Right Thing to Do

I fell in love in Brussels. I was 20 years old and staying with friends for Christmas while I spent my junior year of college abroad in London. There was a second guest at our Christmas gathering – a young Polish lady named Teresa who was working as a nanny in London. When I met her, I was immediately smitten.

Our romance didn’t last long. When we got back to London, we realized we had little in common, not the least of which was a language barrier. Still, my memories of Brussels are all good.

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A Lesson In Empathy from a St. Jude Family

“You’ve got to help me, Doc. My sinuses are killing me.”

The person speaking was a big, burly, and gruff man in his early forties. He wasn’t the type of guy you’d expect to go to the doctor for sinus trouble, much less be so insistent on me making him better. There was something about him that didn’t particularly agree with me, and the same was true of his wife who sat in the corner. She told me more than I wanted to know about her husband’s runny nose.

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On Paris

I was 17 years old when I first visited Paris on a high school choir trip. Before we left, I was told over and over that the Parisians did not like Americans. I was told to be prepared for them to be rude and mean.

That wasn’t my experience. In fact, it was just the opposite of what I experienced there.

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Conservation and Christianity Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

My brother in law, John, is a world-renowned nuclear physicist. He is the Chief Technical Officer and former CEO of TerraPower, a company owned by Bill Gates that is developing a safe, small nuclear reactor being built in China. It will supply power for 200,000 people without creating weapons-grade plutonium. Only the Chinese are interested in the technology because it is expensive to build and the US believes we have an abundance of energy in the form of natural gas and shale. While this is true, these are the exact fossil fuels that are leading to climate change and that have long-term adverse implications for the environment.

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On Loving Memphis

Last week, I was on a walk while on vacation near San Francisco. It was an extremely pleasant day. Nevertheless, one person after the other walked past me without saying a word. Everyone seemed preoccupied.

Finally, a man got out of a truck and greeted me.

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The Long Road to True Collaboration

I recently spent two days in Houston at the US Health Forum for the United Methodist Church. The point of the meeting was to gather church leaders engaged in health ministry from across the country. Historically, the denomination has supported health programs internationally, but it has done little in America. The greatest effort has come from, of all places, the Board of Pensions which has focused on clergy health.

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Popes I Have Known

Ok, I haven’t actually known any popes. Trust me, I would have blogged about it at this point if I had! But Pope Francis’ visit to the United States and Cuba the past week has prompted me to reflect on the impressions various popes have made on me throughout my life.

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How Will You Say “Welcome”?

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.

These words from Emma Lazarus’s poem “New Colossus” appear on the plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Lazarus’s words have inspired generations of people who have come to America seeking a new life, safety, the opportunity to flourish.

But I have to ask: How do these words jive with the position of the United States on the refugees coming out of Syria and Iraq today?

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Making a Difference With a Simple Idea

Last week, we celebrated a very special day at the Church Health Center. On September 1, our organization turned 28.

Twenty-eight years of providing healthcare to the working uninsured of Shelby County, Tennessee. Twenty-eight years of helping our neighbors live healthier lives. Twenty-eight years of filling the gaps in healthcare. Linda, a Center staffer in our 1210 building, brought in a nice spread of ice cream to help us celebrate.

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A Lesson in Kindness From Jimmy Carter

I was sad to hear last week of Pres. Jimmy Carter’s diagnosis with metastatic liver cancer. While his prognosis has not been released, it cannot be good. The cancer has already spread and he is 90 years old.

But I’m reminded of the legacy that Carter will leave behind as he enters the twilight of his life. It’s a legacy of standing up for what’s right on the world stage and extending small kindnesses when no one is watching.

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You Can’t Take it With You

Every Thursday for the past few months, I’ve taken part in a hardhat tour of the new Crosstown Concourse building. The massive structure is being transformed in remarkable ways and will be the home of the Church Health Center in Spring 2017.

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Top 10 Church Health Center Myths

After doing the work of the Church Health Center for almost 28 years, it is easy for me to come to work every day and think nothing has changed. After all, my office is in the same room it has always been, and in my head I am still 33 years old. (Please don’t laugh.)

There have, however, been enormous changes to our ministry in those past 28 years, and even more are on the horizon with the move to Crosstown Concourse well on the way. As a result, many people misunderstand the extent of the work we are doing. Here are the 10 most common misconceptions people have of the Church Health Center.

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Mental Health Stigma Has No Place in the Exam Room

Bethany struck me as being very sad from the moment I walked into the exam room.

At 27, she had a number of small physical complaints, but nothing I could put my finger on. I came to the conclusion that the problem was depression, but over the years I have never been very good at telling young women that I think we need to be treating the cause of their depression rather than their physical symptoms.

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