October 27, 1870 - June 21, 1965
|There are a few really great leaders born in every generation. William Larkin Duren was one in his generation. By the sheer force of his character, personality, and mind he forged ahead to become one of the great leaders of his church. He was a preacher of ability, a writer of real merit, a student of history, a gentleman of the old school, and a friend that one can cherish always.
William Larkin Duren, scholar, educator, lecturer, writer, preacher, gentleman, and humble servant of Jesus Christ, was born in Carroll County, Mississippi, October 27, 1870. He was the son of Jesse George and Annie Eliza Rogers Duren. He attended the public schools of Carroll County and after graduation taught school for some ten years before deciding to attend college for further education. He entered Millsaps College in 1898 and received his A.B. degree in 1902.
Upon graduation he decided to enter the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal’ Church, South. He joined the North Mississippi Annual Con-ference and was ordained deacon in 1902 and elder in 1904. He served the following charges in the North Mississippi Annual Conference: Ltta Bena, Jonestown, Macon, Clarksdale, Tupelo, and Columbus. He transferred to the Louisiana Conference in 1920 and became the pastor of Rayne Memorial Church in New Orleans where he served for six years. He then transferred to the Georgia Conference and became the pastor of St. Mark Methodist Church in Atlanta for four years, 1926-30. He served short terms as Presiding Elder of the Columbus District, Mississippi Conference, Griffin District of the Georgia Conference, and the Monroe and New Orleans Districts of the Louisiana Conference. In 1934 Dr. Duren became editor of the New Orleans Christian Advocate, where he remained until he retired in 1946. He was a great editor and served the paper with distinction and honor.
Dr. Duren received many honors from his church during the forty years, which he served in the active ministry. Centenary College conferred upon him the Doctor of Divinity Degree in 1922 and Millsaps College gave him the same degree in 1932. But the honor he cherished the most was his election to the Uniting Conference of the Methodist Churches in 1939. He was keenly interested in this union and had supported this movement from the beginning. He knew his church’s history as few men did and wrote extensively in this field. He was the author of four books — Francis Asbury, 1928, The Top Seargent, 1930, Charles Betts Galloway, 1932, and The Trail of The Circuit Rider, 1936. In addition to these books, he wrote many articles in the different periodicals of the church.
In 1902, Dr. Duren married Miss Ethel Bennett, who was his inspiring and helpful companion for more than sixty years. She died in 1962. To this union were born three children who survive their parents — William Larkin Duren, Jr., of Charlottesville, Virginia, James B. Duren of Hattiesburg, Missis-sippi, and Miss Mary Duren of Charleston, West Virginia.
Because of his many talents, Dr. Duren’s life had many facets. He was an educator of significant influence. He served on the Board of Trustees of Centenary College and was most valuable to that institution in her critical years when Centenary was trying to find her place of service in the State of Louisiana. He was deeply concerned with raising the educational qualification for membership in the Methodist ministry. He gave significant suggestions to the General Board of Ministerial Training in drawing up the course of study for young preachers entering the ministry of the Methodist Church.
He was a writer and editor of marked ability. Even though the books he wrote did not receive national recognition, they were all well written and showed a profound knowledge of the history of the Methodist Church. There were few of the illustrious editors of the New Orleans Christian Advocate who did as good a job as did Dr. Duren. He was a positive thinker. One never had to wonder about the position of Dr. Duren on any controversial question — all one had to do was to read his writings or listen to him speak. He never straddled the fence on any matter. He was clear-cut and logical in every position he took. Bishops and leaders of the church at large sought his advice on many issues which confronted the church during his long ministry, and he always gave them helpful advice.
Dr. Duren was a friend genuine and true. He had many friends because he was friendly. He had such a deep sense of loyalty to his friends that he suffered when they suffered and he gloried in their successes. He was as free from jealousy as any man I ever knew. He made no derogatory remarks about his brethren. He indulged in no idle gossip. I went to him for advice again and again and he always helped me with the problem that I was facing.
Dr. Duren had executive ability of a high order, as is indicated by his four terms on a district and his long service as editor of the New Orleans Christian Advocate. His judgment was sound, and his advice was often sought and relied upon.
After more than 94 years of fruitful living Dr. Duren died June 21, 1965. He was buried from the Rayne Memorial Methodist Church of which he was pastor emeritus at the time of his death. His body rests in the Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana, hut his spirit has joined that of his beloved companion in that realm where there will be no more pain, no more death, and no more parting.
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 227-229, 1966 by J. Henry Bowdon, Sr..|