United Methodist Bishop Joel McDavid dies at 86
1/9/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.
NOTE: A photograph of Bishop Joel McDavid is available.
A UMNS Report By Alice M. Smith*United
Methodist Bishop Joel D. McDavid, who led church regions in Florida and
Georgia before retiring in 1984, died Jan. 8 from a massive stroke. He
"I just loved him dearly," said South Georgia Bishop Mike Watson. "He was such a wonderful friend."
had been serving as bishop in residence at Dauphin Way United Methodist
Church in Mobile, Ala. He was standing at the kitchen sink with Milah,
his wife of 60 years, when he suffered the stroke the evening of Jan. 7.
He later died at a local hospital. Just the day before, he had given
the devotional at Dauphin Way's staff meeting.
Elected bishop in
1972, McDavid was appointed to the Florida Area, where he served eight
years. In 1980, he was assigned to the Atlanta Area, which he led for
four years. The Atlanta Area, later divided into two episcopal areas,
covered the entire state of Georgia.
Following his retirement
from the episcopacy in 1984, McDavid served first as bishop in residence
at United Methodist-related Candler School of Theology in Atlanta for
eight years before becoming bishop in residence at Dauphin Way at the
invitation of Watson, who was then the church's senior pastor. Both men
were elected to the episcopacy from Dauphin Way, Watson becoming bishop
in 2000. McDavid's nephew, the Rev. Neil McDavid, is Dauphin Way's
The bishop's wife and their three children - Ben
McDavid of Montgomery, Ala., Joel G. McDavid of Panama City, Fla., and
Karen Ann Beville of Mobile - were at his side when he died, as was his
nephew. Other survivors include six grandchildren and a
McDavid was instrumental in helping
establish the Frank Sherman scholarships at Candler School of Theology,
which Watson said was "one of the most significant things that's
happened at Emory (University) for student financial aid." He also was a
force in starting the Simpsonwood Retreat and Conference Center near
Atlanta, said the Rev. Herchel Sheets, a retired pastor in the North
A native of Georgetown, Ala., McDavid
graduated from United Methodist-related Millsaps College in Jackson,
Miss., and Candler School of Theology. He did graduate study at Boston
University School of Theology and received at least four honorary
doctorates during his career.
He was ordained a deacon in 1944
and an elder in 1946. As a pastor, he led churches in the Alabama-West
Florida Annual Conference before being elected bishop. He also held
numerous other church, civic and academic leadership posts. He was a
member of the churchwide Council on Ministries, Board of Discipleship
and the predecessor agencies to the Board of Global Ministries and Board
of Higher Education and Ministry.
Funeral services will be Jan. 10 at Dauphin Way United Methodist Church.
# # #
*Smith is editor of the Wesleyan Christian Advocate, the United Methodist newspaper in Georgia.
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