[Springboard] Bishop James K Mathews Obituary

marilyncrocker at juno.com marilyncrocker at juno.com
Wed Sep 8 17:33:21 CDT 2010

Dear Colleagues,
We just received this note from the Conference.  We celebrate the
completed abundant life of a spirit giant and mentor to us all.  The
Mystery gives, the Mystery takes away.  We give thanks for this enduring
gift to our lives.

Marilyn & Joe

Marilyn R. Crocker, Ed.D
Crocker & Associates, Inc.
123 Sanborn Road
West Newfield, ME 04095
(207) 793-3711

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: "Joy Mueller" <Info at neumc.org>
To: marilyncrocker at juno.com
Date: 8 Sep 2010 14:54:40 -0400
Subject: Special Notice:  Bishop James K Mathews Obituary
Message-ID: <7VILLAG2t93Lx9w5dRu00074cdc at 7villag2.inetu.net>

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Bishop James K. Mathews died on Wednesday morning, September 8, 2010. 
Bishop Mathews was one of the longest-serving bishops in the United
Methodist Church.  His career spanned many continents, including India,
Africa, and Asia.  

Born in Breezewood, Pennsylvania, on February 10, 1913 Mathews was one of
eight children born to Laura Mae Wilson Mathews and itinerant Methodist
preacher James Davenport Mathews.   Mathews received his B.A. from
Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee in 1931, working his
way through college as a baker.  He had originally intended to study
medicine, but his brother, Joe, had just returned from the Olympiad of
Religions in Los Angeles that ran in tandem with the 1932 Olympics, and
convinced him to enter the clergy.  

Mathews received his Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree from Biblical
Seminary in New York City, earning his way teaching newly arrived
immigrants at the Five Points Mission on the lower East Side.  This
experience sparked a life-long passion for mission work and evangelism. 
He was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1937.  He then entered Boston
University School of Theology, where he studied for his master’s degree
in theology.  During his first semester, he heard a lecture by Bishop
Azariah of Dornakal Diocese in South India and decided to become a
missionary.  He withdrew from school, and in February, 1938, sailed for
India on the Queen Mary, arriving in Bombay (now Mumbai).  As part of his
mission work, Mathews mastered several Indian languages, including
Marathi, Hindustani, Urdu and eventually, Sanskrit.

In 1939, Mathews traveled to the Sat Tal Christian Ashram in northern
India to hear the well-known evangelist E. Stanley Jones lecture.  While
there, he met Jones’ daughter Eunice.  The two married on June 1, 1940,
and celebrated their 70th anniversary earlier this year.  In 1942,
Mathews enlisted in the United States Army CBI Theater
(China-Burma-India) in New Delhi, and was appointed First Lieutenant and
assigned to the Quartermaster Corps, while Eunice worked for the OSS, the
predecessor to the CIA.

Mathews and his wife returned to the United States in 1946 where he
worked for the Methodist Board of Missions in New York City, eventually
serving as associate general secretary of the Division of World Missions.
 As part of this position, Mathews traveled constantly, crossing the
Atlantic Ocean 220 times, making more than 60 trips to India, 28 to
Africa, 16 to Latin America, and a dozen to Korea and Japan during his
lifetime.  Throughout his life, Mathews maintained close ties with India,
and remained close friends with Raj Mohan and Arun Gandhi, grandsons of
Mahatma Gandhi.  

After the war, Mathews enrolled in Columbia University under the GI Bill,
where he pursued his PhD in theology.  His dissertation was on Mahatma
Gandhi, whom he had met in India, and who was a close friend of his
father-in-law, E. Stanley Jones, whose book Gandhi: Portrait of a Friend,
inspired Martin Luther King to embrace non-violence as the core principle
of the Civil Rights movement.   In 1955, Mathews moved his family to
Cambridge, England, for six months, where he researched Gandhi’s earlier
writings.  The family lived in the village of Grandchester, in “The Old
Vicarage,” made famous by British poet Rupert Brooke in a 1916 poem of
the same name.  Mathews’ dissertation on Gandhi was published as The
Matchless Weapon: Satyagraha in 1994.  In 2003, 90 year old Bishop
Mathews was invited to discuss Gandhi and answer questions as the
featured guest on an hour-long, live phone-in edition of Washington
Journal on C-SPAN.

Mathews was first elected Bishop of the Methodist Church in 1956 in
Lucknow, however he declined, suggesting that Indians should be
ministered to by their own people.  In 1960 Mathews was again elected
Bishop by the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference in Washington, DC. 
This time, he accepted, and was assigned to the New England Conference,
which included 755 congregations in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, and parts of Connecticut and Vermont.  

Bishop Mathews served on the boards of Boston’s Deaconess Hospital,
Boston University, American University and Sibley Memorial Hospital in
Washington, D. C., and Santiago College in Chile.  He was a member of the
Methodist Council of Bishops, the Massachusetts Council of Churches, and
the National Council of Churches, as well as chairman of the Methodist
Committee for Overseas Relief, and active in the ecumenical movement in
the World Council of Churches.  Mathews also belonged to the Cosmos Club
in Washington D.C. 

Bishop Mathews was active in the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s.  As
early as 1960, Mathews met with Jackie Robinson and other prominent
African-Americans to discuss growing racial tensions.  In 1963, Bishop
Mathews was invited to join President Kennedy at the White House to
discuss civil rights.  He participated in the 1963 March on Washington
for Jobs and Freedom, and was present at Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have
a Dream” speech.   On Easter Sunday in 1964, he and African-American
Bishop Charles Golden were barred from entering an all-white Methodist
church in Jackson, Mississippi.  In 1978, Bishop Mathews joined Mohammad
Ali, Vice President Walter Mondale, Dick Gregory, Buffy St. Marie, Stevie
Wonder, and Marlon Brando in “The Longest Walk” in Washington, D. C.,
which drew national attention to the plight of Native Americans.  

Having served 12 years in New England, in 1972, Mathews was appointed
Bishop of the Washington, D.C. area, with some 900 congregations in
Maryland, the District of Columbia, and West Virginia.  During the first
Bush administration, Bishop Mathews was instrumental in the effort to
construct an interdenominational chapel at Camp David.  Bishop Mathews
along with then Archbishop (later Cardinal) William Baum created an
ecumenical initiative called the Inter-Faith Conference of Metropolitan
Washington in 1978 which is now the most widely representative such body
in the country.

At Bishop Mathews’s retirement service in 1980, addresses were made by
Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun and Majority Leader of the House of
Representatives, John Brademas.   

In 1985, Bishop Mathews was called out of retirement to replace Bishop
Abel Muzorewa, Methodist bishop of Zimbabwe, who had to flee the country
after challenging Prime Minister Robert Mugabe in an election.  He served
in Harare for a year, and helped to found Africa University.  In 1987, he
was recalled a second time to form a new area in the Northeastern
Jurisdiction.  He then served another two years as bishop of the Albany
Area in upstate New York.  His sixth and final assignment was to the New
York City Area.  He finally retired in 1996, sixteen years after his
first “retirement”. 

In May, 1995, Bishop Mathews was invited by the Department of Defense to
join an ex-CBI military delegation to India and China to celebrate the
50th anniversary of the end of World War II.  A few months later, he was
invited by General Mick Kicklighter to fly to Honolulu on Air Force One
with President Clinton to lead ceremonies at Pearl Harbor to commemorate
the end of the war and to introduce President Clinton.  

Bishop Mathews was the author of 9 books, including, South of the
Himalayas, 1955, Eternal Values in a World of Change, 1957, The Road to
Brotherhood, 1958, To the End of the Earth, 1959, A Church Truly
Catholic, 1969, Set Apart to Serve, 1985, The Matchless Weapon:
Satyagraha, 1994, A Global Odyssey, 2000, Brother Joe: A 20th Century
Apostle, 2006. 
He was preceded in death by sisters Daisy Mathews, Elizabeth McCleary,
Margaret Hotaling, Alene Watson and Alice Neill, and by brothers Joseph
Wesley Mathews, and Donald Mathews.   Mathews is survived by his wife,
Eunice, his daughters Anne Mathews-Younes, Director of the Division of
Prevention, Traumatic Stress and Special Programs at the Federal Center
for Mental Health Services and Janice Stromsem, a retired Federal civil
servant and now a senior rule of law advisor on the Haiti Task Team at
USAID, and son, J. Stanley Mathews, professor at Hobart and William Smith
Colleges, as well as six grandchildren and soon to be three great

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 11 am
at Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church, 3401 Nebraska Ave., NW,
Washington, DC.  (202) 363 4900.  A luncheon will follow the service  In
lieu of flowers, gifts can be made on behalf of missionary work in India
through the E Stanley and Mabel Jones Foundation at the General Board of
Global Ministries, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY  10115

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