March 21, 1861-1926
|William J. Porter, son of Baxter Steadman Porter and Elizabeth Ann Rebecca White Porter, was born in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, March 21, 1861. He was converted to God in his early childhood, and felt~ in his heart the call to preach the gospel when he was but a boy. In the death of his father he was left an orphan when lie was only fifteen years old, with the care and support of his mother and three sisters. His educational opportunities were necessarily limited. What education he received was from Centenary College.
He was licensed to preach in 1888. He served the following charges in the Louisiana Conference: Vienna, 1888-1889; Farmeryille, 1890-1891; Plaquemine Brulee, 1892-1895; Indian Bayou, 1894-1896; Prudhomme City, 1897-1900; Hammond, 1901-1903.
While at Hammond he had a nervous breakdown, and was supreannuated for seven years, during which time he resided in Ruston. After regaining his health he served the following charges: Sibley, 1910-1912; Bienville, 1913-1915; Sicily Island, 1916-1919; Columbia,
1920-1922. At Columbia his health failed again and he was for the second time superannuated. His last years were spent in Monroe.
The enumeration of these events in the life of William J. Porter gives but a faint glimpse of his peerless character and sacrificial service.
He Loved God. He was not some derelict saved from the storm wrecks of sin. He did not go out to the far country and surfeit himself on the husks of dissipation. He sowed no wild oats. When but a little child he gave God his heart. At the same time he learned to say, “Papa” and, “Mamma,” he learned to say, “God.” When he first became conscious of love in his heart for his earthly parents, he knew he loved Jesus, too. He could not remember when it was not his will and purpose to do God’ s bidding. Being thus early grounded in a genuine faith and a deep devotion to God, the steadfastness of his life was no surprise. He struggled against poverty and adversity. He struggled against the handicaps of inadequate preparation. He struggled against sickness and broken physical strength. But he was never daunted. His faith did not waiver. His sight of the marching hosts of God and final triumph never grew dim. On February 6, 1926, when he met the last enemy, I know of no one who could more truthfully say: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”
He loved the church. He loved the Methodist Church. He loved her doctrines. He loved her polity. He loved her program of work. The great Missionary Centenary stirred his soul. Out of his meager salary he gave a thousand dollars for Missions during the Centenary period. It was my pleasure to be with him at Columbus, Ohio, during the Centenary celebration. A happier man I never saw. He was in ecstasies of delight. To him the Centenary movement was the dawn of the day when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
He loved folks. He was a friend royal. He was true blue. “He who would have friends must show himself friendly.” Brother Porter did this, and herein was the secret of his many friendships. In this company of Methodist preachers here today there are hearts which are saddened and which experience a strange sense of Loneliness in the absence of this true friend. He was not a great preacher, but he was a great lover. He loved folks for Christ’ s sake. Because of his abiding love for Christ, he wanted to win all men for Him, and, because of his abiding love for folks, he wanted all to know Jesus, whom to know is lift eternal. No wonder his ministry was crowned with success.
W. W. Holmes
|Source: Annual of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Page 92-93, 1926|