This month we are taking a closer look at the Reverend Doctor I. Merrill Bishop, introduced in A Body in the Belfry.
Character Name & brief background: Merrill, born Indigo Merrillanne Rose to hippy parents, has two brothers; older brother Wolf and younger brother, Sage. After spending their preschool years living in a tepee, a caravan and a couple of communes, the Rose children and their now middle-class parents moved to the Southern California suburbs.
Called Indigo as a child, Merrill decided the moniker “Indigo Rose” sounded more like an exotic dancer than a serious student and began using her abbreviated middle name in college, where she met and married William Bishop who was attending a nearby seminary.
Role in Story: Protagonist in the second book in the First Ladies Club series.
Occupation: After enjoying many years as the wife of a pastor, Merrill felt the call to ministry and went to seminary, obtaining her Master’s Degree in Theology. She assisted her pastor-husband until his death from cancer. As a widow, she joined the staff of a large Bay Area inner-city church. When we meet Merrill she has just been called to her first senior pastorate, the struggling First Baptist Church of Bannoch, Oregon.
Physical Description: Merrill has shoulder length blond hair, sprinkled with gray, blue eyes and a trim middle-aged figure. She is petite, but stronger than she looks.
Personality: Fun-loving and mischievous by nature, Merrill feels a responsibility to maintain a more serious demeanor befitting her role in the church and community.
Habits/Mannerisms: Merrill is determined to maintain her physical health with regular exercise, including long daily walks on the beach. She plans her wardrobe so as not to appear frivolous, but to seem approachable. Aware of the prejudices some hold against women pastors, she walks a tightrope trying to avoid offending anyone.
Internal Conflicts: Loneliness may be Merrill’s greatest conflict. As a still-vibrant woman, she longs for companionship and intimacy, but fears that becoming involved in close relationships would distract her from her ministry or even undermine her position in her church.
External Conflicts: Someone is killing people in her new hometown and may be targeting her church, the congregation, or Merrill, next.
If you read A Body in the Belfry and wonder what happens next for Merrill, you will be able to catch up with her and her friends in the First Ladies Club in the next book in the series, A Corpse in the Chapel, scheduled for publication this summer.