1877 - June 13, 1964
|The adult life and labors of W. W. Perry span the first half of the twentieth century. The story of his active and fruitful life gives up an interesting commentary on Methodism in Mississippi and Louisiana of another generation: the five and six point circuits, a difficult pastorate in Shreveport, a town of 35,000 in 1911, low salaries and frequent moves in the true tradition of the itinerant Methodist circuit rider.
Starting his ministry in Mississippi where he was admitted on trial in 1903, he transferred to the Louisiana Conference in 1912, and served for 37 years in all parts of the state. His long ministry, beginning in Miss, in 1903, extended over a period of 45 ½ years. In the Louisiana Conference he served 15 charges, most being circuits. The various entries in his personal journal reveal some interesting insights into his work and character. He majored in paying off Church debts, erecting new buildings and increasing the membership of the churches. His ministry was one of hard work, service, and Christian joy in every undertaking.
Brother Perry did not have the opportunity of a formal theological education. He was born in 1877 near Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, and spent his early youth farming and working in timber both in Louisiana and Mississippi. He enrolled in the Bethany Academy at Baywood, La. in 1895 and completed his work in three years, working on the farm each day and cuffing lumber for the school in the summer. All through his ministry he continued reading and studying and the sermon outlines in his journal reveal a quick and active mind.
In 1899 he married Miss Arra Ann Raney who henceforth shared the trials and joys of his itinerant ministry. Moving from town to town every few years as Methodist preachers must do, his growing family shared in the many and varied experiences of the parsonage home. In his declining years, his devoted children drove for him as he made the appointed rounds of his circuits. Alter his retirement, his interest con-tinued in all matters of the church. Although his eyesight failed in his last years, his family continued to read for him the news of the churches at his request and other ministers were always welcomed guests in his home. The closing years of his life found his loyal wife and devoted members of his family repaying in small measure the love and concern he gave to them through the years. In bringing a witness for Christ to the world, he did not neglect the members of his own household, and they indeed “rise up and call him blessed.”
This consecrated soldier of the Cross helped build the Methodist Church across the parishes of Louisiana through difficult years and never wavered from his calling that came to him in his early boyhood. He has entered into joys of his Lord and others of another generation have the increase to this servant’s sowing. Brother Perry passed away at his home in New Roads, June 13, 1964. He leaves a rich and loving heritage to his family, his friends, and his fellow workers in the Kingdom.
In one of his sermon outlines he had pasted a clipping of one of Charles Wesley’s poems written to be set to music. It must have had great meaning for him:
With that enraptured host to appear, and worship at thy feet!
Give joy or grief, give ease or pain, take life or friends away,
I come to find them all again in that eternal day.
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Church, Pages 216-217, 1965 by Bentley Sloane.|