Bishop William Wesley Morris
Retired UM Bishop William Wesley Morris, 78, died Jan. 14 at home, following a massive heart attack.
Morris was elected to the episcopacy in 1992 while serving as pastor of First UMC in Gallatin, Tenn. He served the Alabama West Florida Area for eight years before being assigned to the Nashville Area in 2000. He retired in 2004.
In 2005, he served as interim general secretary of the General Commission on UM Men, following Joe Harris’ decision to accept an appointment as assistant to the bishop and communications director for the Oklahoma Annual Conference. Morris served as top executive of the commission during the 2005 National Gathering at Purdue University, the move of the commission staff to a new building on Music Row in Nashville, and the election of David Adams as general secretary.
“I’ll always remember his beautiful baritone voice and how he would conclude powerful sermons with a hymn to drive home the message,” said Larry Coppock, director of scouting ministries for the commission. “With a heart of a servant leader, he always brought a sense of calm to commission meetings as he helped us through some critical times.”
“I can still hear his voice when he prayed and when he preached," said Gil Hanke, who served as president of the commission when Morris was interim executive. "The bishop used that remarkable voice mostly in praise of God."
Hanke was elected to the general secretary post in 2010.
Far into retirement, Morris taught Sunday school at Clark Memorial UMC in Nashville.
“The United Methodist Church has lost a giant and Clark Memorial has lost a giant,” said the Rev. Herbert L. Lester Jr., the church’s pastor.
William was born in Baltimore on Aug. 7, 1937, and attended the Baltimore public schools. He was a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, Scarritt College, and Vanderbilt University, where he earned a doctorate of ministry degree.
He was ordained a deacon in 1959 and an elder in 1961. He served Bethany Methodist Church and Union Avenue Community Methodist Church in Chicago; Stanley Methodist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn.; John Wesley UMC in Nashville; and First UMC in Gallatin, Tenn. He twice served as a district superintendent, leading the Clarksville and Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Districts.
Morris served as president of the UM Board of Pension and Health Benefits from 2000 to 2004. He was a trustee of Emory University in Atlanta.
He was married to the late Mary Head Morris of McMinnville, Tenn., and they had four children. He married Princilla Smart Evans in 2006.