Texas Annual Conference Preacher Celebrates 70 years of Ministry
By: Sherri Gragg
As World War II raged, 17-year-old William Edwin McDaniel joined the tide of young men leaving home and farm to defend his country. When he returned to tiny LaRue, Texas, the town his family had called home for generations, he soon found God calling him away from the farm once again. This time, he joined the ranks of United Methodist preachers serving in the army of the Lord.
Seventy Years of Ministry
At the age of 19, Edwin McDaniel enrolled in Perkins Theological Seminary and received his preacher’s license. His first appointment with the United Methodist Church was to Union, Texas, 350 miles away from home. At the age of 21, he took an appointment to the Klondike, Circuit where he met 16-year-old Maurine Rhodes. After a three-month courtship, they wed. Their union that lasted for 65 years and produced two sons, William and Phillip. The family moved every few years as McDaniel cared for 13 different churches between Texarkana and the Gulf Coast.
When McDaniel retired in 1984, he moved home to LaRue and began to restore the farmhouse that had been in his family for generations. But retirement couldn’t silence God’s call on McDaniel’s life- he was a preacher. For the last 34 years of retirement, he has faithfully filled in for vacationing or ill pastors, often stepping behind the pulpit of LaRue UMC. On May 6, 2018, the day before his 89th birthday, he was there once again. The occasion marked the beginning his 70th year of ministry.
A Godly Father’s Inheritance
The past year has been a painful one for McDaniel; his beloved bride of 65 years lost her battle with Parkinson’s and Dementia. Phillip fondly recalls his father’s happiest years of retirement as he and Maurine divided their time between home restoration and traveling all over the United States in their travel trailer.
When Maurine fell ill with Parkinson’s and Dementia, the happy couple traded in their life of adventure for quiet years at home in which the elder McDaniel served as his wife’s faithful caregiver. After she grew too ill to remain at home, and entered an assisted living facility, he went to visit her every day where he would sit by her bedside and sing to her.
As Phillip reflects on his father’s life, he is certain that the shining star in his father’s long ministry was the way he loved and served his own family. “Every time I began to drift from the path, my Dad was this beacon that kept drawing me back,” Phillip said. “He is the example I strive for. I want to be half the man he is.”