Rev. Hemphill guest speaker at Trinity UMC

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Pictured, second from left is the Rev. William Hemphill Jr. with his son, Bruce (Navy) on his left and grandson, Richard (Army) at Richard’s graduation ceremony from War College this past summer.

EAST NEW MARKET — The Rev. William Hemphill Jr. will be the guest speaker at Trinity UM Church’s annual Homecoming service on Oct. 27, at 10:30 a.m. A fellowship dinner will follow the service. The public is invited.

East New Market Charge was his first charge in 1948. He served there until 1953 before going to another charge. From 1957 to 1962, he served at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Cambridge. Later he was district superintendent for the Wilmington District.

He was also a trustee of the Peninsula United Methodist Homes, Inc. He was elected delegate to seven Northeast Jurisdictional Conferences. He was also elected to two four-year terms on the General Board of Global Ministries for which he made three mission trips to Africa.

William, a retired Delaware National Guard, Lt. Col., was born on June 16, 1925 in West Philadelphia, Pa., the first of four children born to William and Edith Gulick Hemphill. When he was 3 years old the family moved to Havertown, Pa. where he attended public school and graduated from Haverford Township High School in January 1943.

He enlisted in the Navy V-12 program and was sent to a Unit at the Central Michigan Teachers College where he completed the required equivalent of two years credit. He was then assigned to the Naval Midshipman School at Notre Dame University for officer’s training.

Upon completion, he was commissioned Ensign in the US Navy. After two months of anti-submarine warfare training, he was ordered to the USS Charles J. Kimmel (DE584) in the Pacific.

His year of sea duty in the Sea of Japan and the Philippine Islands during the last year of the war ended with the homeward journey to San Diego where the ship was decommissioned.

Released from active duty, he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania and completed his AB degree in January 1948. Two weeks later on Feb. 14, he and Sarah Francis Foster were married at Grace Chapel in Havertown.

The following May the newlyweds journeyed to East New Market on the Eastern Shore of Maryland to begin his life’s work as a Methodist pastor.

As a student pastor serving three churches: Trinity, Brookview, and Wesley he also travelled to the Temple University School of Theology once a week for two days of classes.

After three years he received the required Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree, but he continued graduate study until he also earned the Master of Sacred Theology. He was ordained Elder in 1951.

His second appointment was to Calvary-Asbury Church in Sudlersville, and a rural church named Double Creek. At this time the Vietnam War was intensifying and Bill was recruited to become a Chaplain in the Maryland Army National Guard.

Many church members urged him to do this part-time work because so many farm boys were enlisting in the Guard rather than being drafted so they could continue to help the family farm. In 1957 the Bishop appointed him to serve St. Paul’s Church in Cambridge where his five-year tenure was caught up in the chaotic issues of the civil rights struggle.

The next appointment was across the state line to Wesley Church, Dover, Del. This growing congregation included long-time “Doverites,” US Air Force personnel and families, and newcomers with the just opened General Foods Plant.

It was during this period that the Peninsula Conference (white) and Delaware Conference (African-American) were merged, the first such merger in The Methodist Church. From 1970 to 1977 he was senior pastor of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Wilmington.

He was then Superintendent of the Wilmington District for a period of six years, supervising all the Methodist churches in New Castle County, Del. and Cecil County, Md. His final appointment was Hockessin from which he retired in 1989.

But he continued to work part-time as Associate Pastor of Elkton U.M. Church for 12 years while living on the Chesapeake Bay at West View Shores. In 2001 he and Sarah became residents of the Willow Valley Retirement Community in Lancaster, Pa.

During his 53 years of pastoring churches, Rev. Hemphill also served on the Boards and Agencies of the Pennisula Conference. He was also elected to two four-year terms on the General Board of Global Ministries for which he made three mission trips to Africa.

Sarah and Bill were blessed with two sons, both natives of Maryland. Bruce was born in 1949 while his parents were serving the East New Market Charge, Mark came later in 1956 while the family was living in Sudlersville.

Both are law school graduates. Both sons are married. Sara and Bill have two grandchildren and three great-grandsons.

Sarah and Bill have enjoyed good health during most of their retirement years and were able to make a few trips abroad and many trips to California.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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