Skip Navigation

Mike DuBose

Bishop Paul A. Duffey.

United Methodists of note who died in 2012

In 2012, church members marked the passing of a number of United Methodist leaders who made significant contributions in their Christian walk.

Those to whom we said goodbye include bishops and agency executives, an evangelist in Sierra Leone, a pioneer in rural ministry and a former U.S. Senator who even out of office remained committed to fighting world hunger.

Here are eight remembrances.

Bishop Paul A. Duffey

Bishop Paul Andrews Duffey died March 18 in Georgia after a brief illness. He was 91.

In 1980, the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference elected Duffey to the episcopacy. He was assigned to the Louisville Area and served eight years. He also was secretary of the Council of Bishops from 1984 to 1988.

"Bishop Duffey was truly one of God's humble servants," said the Rev. Karl Stegall, now retired from the Alabama-West Florida Annual (regional) Conference. "He was a Christian gentleman in the highest sense of the word. He always lifted our spirits to the higher, nobler things of life. He modeled for all of us in a unique way Christian piety and social action."

The Rev. Edward W. Paup

The Rev. Edward W. Paup. Photo by Cassandra Heller.
The Rev. Edward W. Paup
Photo by Cassandra Heller.

The Rev. Edward W. Paup, a former United Methodist bishop and top executive of the denomination's mission agency, died March 21 after a long battle with a brain tumor.

He served as bishop of the Portland (Ore.) Area from 1996 to 2004 and bishop of the Seattle Area until 2008, when he resigned from the episcopacy to become the top staff executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. He served only a year as the mission agency's general secretary before resigning from the position on Sept. 1, 2009, because of health concerns.

"We know that through God, Ed was formed, called, ordained and commissioned - and now has been called to rest. As resurrection people, we hold fast to Jesus' promise that there will be for each of us an eternal home," said West Ohio Area Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Nancy Mikell Carruth

Nancy Mikell Carruth. A web-only photo.
Nancy Mikell Carruth
A web-only photo.

Nancy Mikell Carruth, an inaugural member of United Methodist-related Africa University's advisory development committee and planned giving council, passed away April 1 in Bunkie, La. She was 84.

Many affectionately knew her as "Mrs. Africa University." As chair of the Division of Higher Education of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Carruth became a key proponent of the Africa Initiative, supporting African bishops and church leaders. She traveled to Liberia and Zimbabwe as part of the site-selection committee to investigate possible locations for the university. Carruth presented the formal proposal to found and support Africa University to the 1988 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis.

"She worked to realize a dream which is destined to change the face of leadership in Africa from now until eternity," said Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa of the Zimbabwe Area.

The Rev. Isaac Momoh Ndanema

The Rev. Isaac Momoh Ndanema. A web-only photo.
The Rev. Isaac Momoh Ndanema
A web-only photo.

The Rev. Isaac Momoh Ndanema, the oldest evangelist and church builder in the Sierra Leone Conference, passed away June 1. He was 107.

"Pa" Ndanema, as he was fondly called, spent a good deal of his life building schools and developing congregations for the denomination. His team established 14 churches and 10 schools in eastern Freetown, Sierra Leone's capital, and the hinterland. The annual conference honored his work in 2010 when he was given the title of "conference evangelist" - the first in the conference to receive the title.

"He lived a life of self-denial. He loved a simple and humble home," said the Rev. Moses Massaquoi, Ndanema's former assistant, at the funeral service June 19. "With the support of his children, he would have lived a better life in the United States &ellipsis; or a far better home elsewhere in Freetown. But he preferred to live a simple lifestyle in the Ginger Hall Community in eastern Freetown."

The Rev. Harold W. McSwain

The Rev. Harold W. McSwain. Photo courtesy of the McSwain family.
The Rev. Harold W. McSwain
Photo courtesy of the McSwain family.

For 50 years, the Rev. Harold W. McSwain played a pivotal role in the church's rural ministry network. McSwain, who died June 17 in Columbus, Ohio, at age 87, had been in ill health since suffering a stroke in December 2007.

In 1964, he was hired as the first full-time director of Hinton Rural Life Center, where he expanded on the parish-staff approach of linking small churches to existing administrative, service and religious structures. The center offered resources and training on the model, established volunteer and youth programs and provided facilities for religious retreats. McSwain also helped form the Appalachian Development Committee, which coordinated United Methodist ministries across that region.

"Dr. McSwain had the deepest of commitment to all things rural," said the Rev. Owen Gorden, dean of the denomination's Rural Chaplains Association. "He dedicated his powerful intellectual and organizational abilities to advancing the causes of the rural church and community."

Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly

Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Bishop Leontine T.C. Kelly
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

Bishop Leontine Turpeau Current Kelly, The United Methodist Church's first African-American woman bishop, is remembered as a trailblazer, a spiritual mother, a standard-bearer for women of color in leadership and a gift to The United Methodist Church. She died at age 92 on June 28.

Although a member of the Virginia Conference, Kelly was elected to the episcopacy by the Western Jurisdictional Conference in 1984. She was assigned to the San Francisco Area. Among Kelly's many contributions to the denomination was as a founding member of Africa University, the first United Methodist university on the continent of Africa. Kelly was the presiding bishop when the 1988 United Methodist General Conference approved the African Initiative, which later became Africa University.

"She made a bold journey from the Southeastern Jurisdiction to the Western Jurisdiction. It was as audacious as her whole life," retired Bishop Judith Craig said. "She never ran from challenge or controversy, and she also stood fast in her convictions."

Former U.S. Sen. George McGovern

Former U.S. Sen. George McGovern. Photo by Jay Mallin.
Former U.S. Sen. George McGovern
Photo by Jay Mallin.

Many United Methodists knew former Sen. George McGovern not as a politician but as a faithful church member who emulated John Wesley in his quest to overcome hunger and poverty and promote peace and justice. McGovern, the son of a Wesleyan Methodist pastor, died in the early morning hours of Oct. 21 in Sioux Falls, S.D. He was 90.

As a senator, McGovern wrote legislation to initiate the food stamp program, the school lunch program and supplemental food assistance to women and children (WIC). Later, as a U.N. ambassador, he recruited his former political rival-turned-friend, Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas), to sponsor an international school lunch program to feed the hungry children in less economically developed nations. Both men were honored with the prestigious World Food Prize in 2008.

"For him, the social gospel was not just a theory, but the core of his faith in seeking to make the world a better place," said the Rev. Donald Messer, executive director of the Center for the Church and Global AIDS and a longtime friend of McGovern.

Bishop Mack B. Stokes

Bishop Mack B. Stokes. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Bishop Mack B. Stokes
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

Bishop Mack B. Stokes, who taught thousands of preachers and helped desegregate Mississippi United Methodists, died Nov. 21 in Perdido Key, Fla. He was 100, just a month shy of his 101st birthday.

Before his election to the episcopacy, he taught for 31 years at Emory's Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, where he was the school's first Parker Professor of Systemic Theology, associate dean and later acting dean. The Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference elected Stokes a bishop in 1972 and assigned him to the Jackson (Miss.) Episcopal Area, where he served until his retirement as active bishop in 1980.

In Mississippi, he took on the task of merging African-American and white annual conferences into two integrated conferences. "He served in Mississippi at an important time," said retired Bishop Kenneth Lee Carder, who was the Jackson Area bishop from 2004 to 2008. "He brought to that task not only a pastoral sensitivity but also a deep theological grounding for reconciliation."

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye

U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. A web-only photo by U.S. Senate Photographic Studio.
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye
A web-only photo by U.S. Senate Photographic Studio.

Many United Methodists remember Sen. Daniel K. Inouye not just as a World War II hero and a longtime U.S. senator from Hawaii but also as a fellow church member respected for his integrity and commitment to fairness. Inouye, named for the biblical prophet and the Methodist pastor who helped raise his orphaned mother, died of respiratory problems Dec. 17 in Washington at the age of 88. The Democrat was Hawaii's first U.S. congress member after it achieved statehood in 1959 and later its senator upon his election in 1962. He was also the first Japanese American in Congress.

"Throughout his life and career, Sen. Inouye was an advocate for the underrepresented and marginalized persons of society who took seriously his United Methodist faith," the Rev. Mark M. Nakagawa, chair of the National Japanese American United Methodist Caucus, said in a statement.

*Contributors to this article include Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Linda Bloom, Kathy Gilbert, Heather Hahn, Phileas Jusu and Andra Stevens.

News media contact: Heather Hahn, Nashville, Tenn. (615) 742-5470 or email newsdesk@umcom.org.