Pastors' Memoirs

William Thomas Roberts, Sr., 1920-1997

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  William Thomas Roberts Sr. was born on January 1, 1920, in Washington, D.C. In 1938, he moved to Dranesville where he met his wife of 57 years, Evelyn Gardner. Following their marriage, they were blessed with four sons, Stanley Caswell, Ronnie Lee, Michael Allen, and William Thomas Jr. After a two-year tour of duty in the U.S. Army, Bill started his own plumbing business and eventually became a plumbing inspector for Fairfax County.

  In 1964, while an active member of the Dranesville church, Bill received a local preacher’s license. But Bill was a preacher’s man before he became a preacher. I first knew him as lay leader of Dranesville Church where I served as a student pastor. Every pastor needs someone like Bill Roberts to provide encouragement and support! His spiritual witness fed my soul and the souls of others. While actively involved in the church’s life as a layman, Bill received a call to ministry. So, he responded to God’s claim and call upon his life and left his career to follow wherever the Master would lead him, and go wherever the United Methodist Church would send him as Christ’s servant and messenger of the gospel.

  While many words can be used to describe Bill, I remember him most as a man of deep faith and commitment to his Lord. Following his ordination as a deacon in 1973, Bill was eager to serve as Christ’s representative and determined to become equipped for the responsibilities. He completed the course of studies at Duke Divinity School in 1975 and became an associate member of the Virginia conference in 1983. His places of ministry included the Richmond Charge, New Hope, Montross Charge, Linden Charge, and the Hillsboro-Bluemont-Roszell Charge. Bill retired in 1990, but came out of retirement to serve the West Loudon Charge. Bill and Evelyn moved back to the Rappahannock District in 1994, where he continued to find avenues of ministry.

  Following an intense struggle to recover from extensive injuries resulting from an automobile accident, the Lord called Bill home on May 14, 1997. The words of our Lord speak of Bill’s life of faith: "Well done good and faithful servant... Enter the joy of your Master." (Math. 25:21) The words of the apostle Paul also sum up Bill’s life and circumstance surrounding his death: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes." (Romans 8:28) As we remember Bill’s life we rejoice to affirm that he has truly received his reward. Thanks be to God for this untiring servant of the Master.

- R. Franklin Gillis Jr.



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