News Archives

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 was 86.

"I just loved him dearly," said South Georgia Bishop Mike Watson. "He was such a wonderful friend."

McDavid 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 current pastor.

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 great-granddaughter.

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 Georgia Conference.

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.

Back : News Archives 2003 Main

Contact Us

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.


*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add to your list of approved senders.