Faithful Friday: Channing Moore Williams

By Sarah Levesque (Rated G)

Reverend Channing Moore Williams, Episcopal missionary and bishop, was born in Richmand, Virginia on July 18, 1829 to Mary and John Green Williams, who named him after the zealous second Episcopal bishop of Virginia, Richard Channing Moore. When Channing Moore Williams was only three years old, his father died, leaving Mary to raise their six children alone, which she proved quite capable of doing, raising her children in the Episcopal church. At eighteen years old, Channing was working at a relative’s general store and learning Greek from his pastor, having heard the call to the ministry. Once he earned enough money to pay his way through college, Channing attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg for two years, graduating in 1852 with a master in arts degree, something none of his classmates accomplished. From William and Mary, Channing went to Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, known for its missionary spirit. In 1855, Channing Moore Williams and classmate John Liggins were ordained deacons and set sail for China to spread the Good News.

Once in China, Williams and Liggins were brought into the missionary work led by Bishop Williams J. Boone, who ordained both to the priesthood on January 11, 1857. Despite the difficulty in learning the languages of China and the hostility of the populace, both Williams and Liggins proved themselves to be “promising and reliable missionaries”, according to their leaders. Consequently, when Japan opened itself to the world, it was Williams and Liggins who were sent to be missionaries there, though their official job was that of chaplains to the American merchants and teachers. They translated books of all sorts, including prayers and the Scriptures. Liggins’ health failed him and he returned to the United States, but Williams stayed on, quietly evangelizing to those around him while teaching them various subjects. In 1855 he was called back to America, and he was consecrated as Bishop of China and Japan in October of 1866. After spending time with family and preaching his mission, he returned to Asia. Despite no vacations or time off, Bishop Williams never got seriously ill as did his fellow missionaries. He established many new missions, churches and schools throughout China and Japan. The missionaries under his leadership hailed him as a great teacher, and wrote of his gentleness, earnestness, humility and simplicity of heart. Bishop Williams worked with leaders of other denominations, likely recognizing that the spread of the Gospel was more important than the differences that could divide them.

In 1908, Williams returned to America, having resigned his position as bishop. His seat was split and taken by two of the priests who had worked under him. Bishop Channing Moore Williams died peacefully in his sleep on December 2, 1910. May we, like him, be committed to spreading the Gospel humbly and gently.


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