The Story of Nancy Morton

Posted by Nancy Morton on

St. Paul’s Cathedral is a place of good news. My story of how I know this begins with a challenge posed at an Episcopal Church in Chicago: “In 25-words or less why do you believe the gospel is good news?” I don’t remember my first version but gratitude was a key word.

In 1967, I moved to Des Moines to work for Better Homes & Gardens and was drawn to St. Paul’s location as a downtown church.

I kept tinkering with the 25-word challenge. Each word needed to do heavy lifting. I juggled motivators such as compassion, healing, thankfulness, awe, service, God’s love, hope, community, joy, and belonging. 

My epiphany came during a sermon at St. Paul’s on Matthew 11:8. “Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  I learned that “zest” was a perfectly good translation for “rest.”

Zest became my energizing word. It implies a receive-and-give relationship with Jesus along with the energy to bless the weary and tackle hunger, sickness, and tragedy of all sorts and conditions.

As for me, I believe the gospel is good news because: I am loved and forgiven. Following Jesus adds zest to my life and it is changed. 

At the time of Cathedral status in 1993, I was editor of Iowa Connections, the diocesan newspaper, reporting good news in places large and small across the state. I noticed similar responses at times of celebration and disaster. Congregations repeatedly gathered at church to praise, pray, and pitch in.

The Cathedral Church of St. Paul is a place of good news. “We are committed to accepting and giving Christ’s unconditional love through worship, fellowship, education, and service within and beyond our parish church” with zest.