The Morris/Phillip family consisted of seven boys and two girls and James helped his father farm acres of land in Molyneux, attended school during the week and was an altar boy for the Catholic church.
In his teens he went to live with an influential cousin in St Croix who introduced him to Adventism. Attracted to the word of God he relinquished his former beliefs in Catholicism.
After his conversion, he moved from St Croix to University of the Southern Caribbean formerly Caribbean Union College (CUC) in Trinidad, West Indies. He worked in a bakery, travelled across the Caribbean region selling literature to pay for his ministerial studies.
As a student at CUC, he forged lifetime friendships that included meeting his wife-to-be Anne Pilgrim, a Mathematics teacher. Completing his studies in 1973, he got married and began his ministry in that year as the Youth, Health and Temperance Director of the Eastern Caribbean Conference in St Lucia. In his first term of office his eldest daughter Shanda was born. Moving from there to Barbados for his second term of office, his second daughter Anna-lee was born.
As Director he was required to travel across the Eastern Caribbean islands and could speak conversational French patois. He also believed in and applied a mentorship model for young people paired with experienced individuals. His message to everyone was to have a limitless view of living as found in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.”
He then returned to CUC as Dean of Men in the 80s where those at Cedar Hall Dorm aka Spartans formed great memories were formed under their beloved ‘Round One’. He was a prolific table tennis player, dominoes and basketball player. He taught ‘Christian beliefs’, the first course all students had to complete.