Early in my tenure at Candler, we invited Bishop Marshall L. “Jack” Meadors, Jr. to join us as Bishop-in-Residence. We were thrilled and honored once again to bring a bishop on board. Having lived with men (yes, previously men) in that role at two other United Methodist seminaries and not knowing him well, I wasn’t clear whether he would “wear” episcopal garb literally or figuratively in our daily life and in his new campus roles.
Jack Meadors came to Candler. I suspect that many students and perhaps staff found out only after their encounter with Jack that he was a bishop. He fit in with Candler’s daily/weekly rhythms, relations with colleagues, classroom roles, and casual life with students. I don’t recall his dress distinguishing him in any way.
While at Candler but doubtless previously and thereafter, Meadors presented himself as Jack. Style “suited” substance. The Council of Bishops (COB) remembers Meadors “for his advocacy and quest for justice,” his push “for tolerance and understanding in diversity,” his “working with various organizations to make sure God’s children did not live in scarcity and without the basic needs of life.”
Such championing to be sure he exercised in and offered leadership for various organizations. The COB’S eulogy—as well as releases by United Methodist News Service and the various entities for which Meadors tirelessly labored—itemize his various roles/offices/directorships for the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, General Board of Church and Society, University Senate, and Council of Bishops’ Initiative on Children and Poverty. For both of his schools, Emory University and Wofford College, Meadors served as trustee. And he played similar leadership roles as member of the South Carolina Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
But doubtless folks involved with him in those and other activities and offices—as in his roles at Candler—related to Jack Meadors. One of the pictures released with notice of his death has him in short sleeves with Black students at the opening of Wofford’s “Meadors Multicultural House.” That was Jack at Candler, as always and elsewhere.
Preview photo: Jack Meadors speaks after receiving Candler’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement.