Skip links

2022: Noteworthy United Methodists remembered (UM News)

December 16, 2022

United Methodists over the past 12 months have marked the passing of a storied NFL coach, a beloved Christian contemporary music artist, the denomination’s first Asian American bishop and a pastor named Bible.

Here are 40 remembrances, listed in order of date of death. This list includes four deaths from late 2021.

The Rev. DarEll T. Weist

The Rev. DarEll T. Weist — a United Methodist historian and children’s author who also served as a pastor and missionary — died of a heart attack Dec. 10, 2021, in Orange County, California. He was 81.

Weist grew up in North Dakota in the Evangelical United Brethren Church, which merged with Methodists to form The United Methodist Church in 1968. With the merger, friends say, Weist was “United Methodist through and through.” He served as a missionary teacher at a seminary in Sierra Leone and as a pastor in the Midwest and later Southern California.

Deeply interested in what the next stage of The United Methodist Church might be, he looked to its history. He revitalized the position of California-Pacific Conference historian, which he held until his death. He also revived the conference’s long-dormant Methodist Historical Society, building on the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History course to train local church historians.

Weist served as chair of the Western Jurisdiction Commission on Archives and History, and thus was a member of the denomination’s Commission on Archives and History. He also chaired the agency’s standing committee on Heritage Landmarks — sites of denominational import that are approved by General Conference.

“His big push, as a member of Archives and History, was lifting up places that were outside the U.S.,” said the Rev. Alfred T. Day III, a retired top executive at the agency who worked with Weist. “The other thing about him is that he was a very proud son of the Evangelical United Brethren Church. He was forever arguing for inclusion of the EUB so we wouldn’t forget our EUB heritage.”

Bishop Wilbur Choy

A half century ago, Bishop Wilbur Wong Yan Choy made national headlines with his election as The United Methodist Church’s first Asian American episcopal leader.

Fellow United Methodists say the bishop did not just blaze a trail for himself but also opened pathways for other pioneering leaders across the church. Friends also remember him for his great sense of humor.

Choy died Dec. 28, 2021, in Seattle at age 103. His legacy includes a denomination that, thanks in part to his ministry, has grown significantly more ethnically and racially diverse since his election.

The son of Chinese immigrants initially served as an elder in the California-Oriental Provisional Conference, comprising Chinese, Korean and Filipino churches in the state. He chaired the Integration Committee that guided the provisional conference’s 1952 merger with geographic Methodist conferences.

Two years later, he became pastor of a multiracial congregation after he brought together a predominantly Chinese congregation and a church with both white and Black members. He became The United Methodist Church’s first Chinese American district superintendent of a predominantly white district in 1969.

The Western Jurisdictional Conference elected Choy to the episcopacy in 1972. He went on to lead the Pacific Northwest Conference for eight years and the California-Nevada Conference for four before retiring in 1984. His episcopal colleagues chose him to serve as the Council of Bishops president in 1983-84. 

“I remember him for radiating the joy of the Lord, and his graciousness to all people. It was just infectious,” said retired Bishop Roy Sano, who was elected as the denomination’s first Japanese American bishop the same year Choy retired.

The Rev. Inman Moore

The Rev. Reuben Inman Moore Jr. was a pastor at a prominent church in Biloxi, Mississippi, when in 1963 he joined with 27 other white Methodist clergy in publishing a statement titled “Born of Conviction.”

The statement that opposed the continuation of a segregationist society sparked immediate backlash. Some signers were locked out of their churches. Some received death threats.

Moore, who went by Inman, eventually found a new home in what is now the California-Pacific Conference. He chronicled his experiences in his autobiography, “On the Road to Civil Rights,” published when he was 90. Moore died Jan. 26 at age 96 in Pasadena, California.

Moore grew up in southern Mississippi, the son of a Methodist pastor. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he returned to the state determined to also be a pastor.

After his time in Mississippi, he served as a United Methodist pastor in California before taking early retirement. He would later serve in part-time pastoral ministry whenever called. He and his late wife, Nellie, also created two successful businesses, Moore Vending and Tournament Souvenirs. The two were married for 73 years.

His longtime friend, the Rev. Mark Trotter, described Moore as “beloved as a pastor, exceptional preacher, successful in business, devoted friend.”

Trotter said Moore was “dedicated to implementing the model of the Kingdom into the life of whatever community in which he resided.”

Marjorie Tuell

Marjorie “Marji” B. Tuell, wife of the late Bishop Jack M. Tuell, died Feb. 9 just days after her 96th birthday.

She and her husband met in 1945 when she was a nursing student and he was serving the U.S. Army Air Corps. The two got engaged only six weeks after they met. They had three children and would eventually be married for 68 years.

She joined her husband as he began ordained ministry in the Pacific Northwest Conference in 1950. She accompanied him through various appointments as pastor, district superintendent and eventually his election as bishop in 1972. Her husband was assigned to the Oregon-Idaho Conference and then the California-Pacific Conference before his retirement in 1992.

Tuell had her own ministry. She directed church choirs and earned degrees in church music and education. She became a respected expert on hymnody — teaching at United Methodist-related Claremont School of Theology and helping to develop the 1989 edition of The United Methodist Hymnal.

“Marjorie Tuell not only knew the hymns, she knew where they came from, and what sort of strings in our hearts they tugged on,” said Bishop JW Stanovsky, who today leads the Pacific Northwest, Oregon-Idaho and Alaska conferences. “She could read your heart by the hymns that you loved.”