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Marjory Wise

A Scot who felt a calling to give hospitality and share her faith

Marjory Wright first encountered the work of MRA as a child through her uncle, Dr David Watson, whose life changed dramatically on meeting the Oxford Group as a student in the 1920s. Following the outbreak of war, when Marjory was just four, her mother moved with her three children from Glasgow to Aberdeen, where she found she was to raise the family alone, as her husband had decided to leave her. She felt she recovered from this devastating blow largely through the caring letters and prayers of her brother David, then stationed in Burma with the Indian Army. He asked his friends connected with MRA in Scotland to support them in any way they could. One gave them a home for some years. These acts of kindness launched the family's journey towards living with a practical faith.
 
Marjory's professional training was in domestic science followed by Hotel School in Glasgow, and she used this to make a practical contribution to MRA’s conferences at Mackinac Island, Michigan and Caux, Switzerland. She felt propelled into this by a real and riveting experience one night at the age of twenty, when she was conscious of the presence of Christ in her room, assuring her of His Love and that He was calling her to give Him her life, her future, all she felt about the past, and to offer herself to the work being undertaken by MRA. "Feed my sheep", she heard Him say to her.
 
At Mackinac she was deeply moved when listening to a Stoney Indian chief from Canada speaking about his peoples' struggles and hurt when the white man came to their land.  Tears streamed down her cheeks as she thought about the scar she still felt in her life, for which she blamed her father. It was nothing to what the native North Americans had suffered. If this man could forgive, so could she. Feeling liberated, she took a number of steps to restore relationships that had been affected by her bitterness.
 
Marjory spent a number of the following years learning about and meeting with those involved in critical matters facing modern Britain, and at the same time cooking, usually as part of a team, for international visitors in the beautiful London home of Frank Buchman, 45 Berkley Square, and at various conferences, always believing that good hospitality and good cooking could reach people's hearts and often bring change in society. She also toured Europe with a Tawianese musical production, The Dragon, under the leadership of General Ho Ying Chin, that sought to convey MRA’s message in an exciting and dramatic way. She was quite sure she was not chosen for her singing voice, but for her smile and her Scottish costume!
 
Originally acquired for MRA’s outreach work at the end of the war, by the mid-1960s the Westminster Theatre underwent a major refurbishment and Marjory became particularly involved in the launch of its public restaurant. In the preceding years she had got to know Gordon Wise, who was particularly active in labour relations work in both the UK and internationally, and in 1966 they married. She considered him a man of action, witty, effective and full of faith, and while she felt she had a lot to learn about the areas he had committed to, they interested her and she was game to learn. It was a great romance, Marjory having fallen in love with him only a week before their engagement, and they formed a strong partnership.
 
Their first married home was in Liverpool, a base for Gordon during the time of a national docker’s strike, then at MRA’s conference centre at Tirley Garth, Cheshire, which hosted not only a rolling series of regional, national and international meetings but also a team of younger people who were seeking a purpose in life. Before moving to London in the early 1970s, Marjory helped plan the modernization of Tirley’s catering facilities to meet the demands of these events.
 
With Gordon, she co-hosted a series of London homes in Charles Street and then Victoria (including modernising them) to support MRA activities, often bringing people together over ‘working dinners’, and to build teams with people from the next generation. She juggled large households, hands-on work and a constant stream of visitors with motherhood and frequent travel alongside Gordon.
 
In 2002, shortly before his 79th birthday, Gordon suffered a major stroke. Marjory, still in her sixties, became his main carer – another long learning experience, but one which perhaps fulfilled an early ambition to consider nursing. Having finally relinquished London-based responsibilities in 1995, they made their home in later life first in Buckinghamshire and then in East Sussex until the end of Gordon's life in 2020.

Nationality
United Kingdom
Primary country of residence
United Kingdom