Bishop Nathaniel Linsey
Retired Senior Bishop Nathaniel Linsey of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church passed away on Wednesday, May 18, in Fayetteville, Georgia, at the age of 84. The former Los Angeles resident and religious leader served 24 years as a C.M.E. bishop, overseeing churches in California as part of his larger duties for the Ninth Episcopal District from 1983 to 1986.
Services for Bishop Linsey will be held Saturday, May 28, in Atlanta, Georgia, at West Mitchell C.M.E. Church at noon, and will be aired in a live webcast. The visitation service will take place the preceding evening, Friday, May 27, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the church.
Nathaniel Linsey began his life journey on July 24, 1926 as the sixth of nine children born to Samuel L. Linsey and L.E. Forney Linsey in Atlanta. He grew up in a loving home with a close knit family and an equally close community of neighbors.
He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1944 where he was a school patrolman and a member of the debate team. At the age of 17, Nathaniel accepted the call to ministry under the Reverend R. B. Shorts at West Mitchell C.M.E. Church in Atlanta, where he had attended since childhood with his father, Sam.
He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from Paine College in Augusta, GA, in 1948. He was later inducted into the Paine College Football Hall of Fame. He received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and a Master of Arts degree in Evangelism (with distinction) from Scarritt College in Nashville, TN. Honorary doctorates were conferred by Paine College, Miles College and Texas College.
Bishop Linsey’s first pastoral assignment was the Halifax Circuit in Halifax, VA, while attending Howard University. After graduating, he became the first full-time National Youth Director for the C.M.E. Church. Later, he served as pastor of Rock of Ages and St. Peter C.M.E. Churches in Walterboro, SC; Mattie E. Coleman C.M.E. Church in Knoxville, TN; Vanderhorst Memorial C.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC; and Thirgood C.M.E. Church in Birmingham, AL where he led the congregation in constructing a new church building.
He was also appointed as Presiding Elder of the Greenville District in the South Carolina Conference and the Macon District in Georgia. In 1966, he was elected General Secretary of the Department of Evangelism, and served in that capacity for 12 years and established the Congress on Evangelism and Power Pool prayer groups.
In 1978, Linsey was elected the 39th Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. He presided over the Seventh (1978-1983), the Ninth (1983-1986), the Tenth (1986-1994), and the Second (1994-2002) Episcopal Districts, serving domestically and abroad in Jamaica and Africa. While living in Nigeria, he was installed as Chieftain of Distinguished Humanitarianism and Shepherd of Souls.
Bishop Linsey was installed as Senior Bishop at the 1994 C.M.E. General Conference and assumed the duties of Chief Executive Officer until he retired in 2002. His legacy included 56 years in the itinerant ministry and a member of the World Methodist Council for 36 years. After retiring, he remained active in national and international ecumenical movements and initiatives, including World Evangelism.
Equally dear to his heart as his dedication to kingdom building was Linsey’s commitment to the civil rights movement. He led the effort to integrate public schools and organized sit-ins as president of the local NAACP chapter in Knoxville, TN. Later, while pastoring in Birmingham, AL, he worked, marched and was jailed with Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Ralph Abernathy and others.
Bishop Linsey received numerous honors and awards such as The Charles G. Gomillion Award for World Wide Leadership, World Wide Achievement, and World Wide Service from the Paine College National Alumni Association. He was also named to the highest level of membership by the World Methodist Council as a member of the Honorable Order of Jerusalem. In addition, Bishop Linsey and Mrs. Linsey were jointly named World Ambassador of Christ Jesus for their Leadership in World Evangelism and received a Crystal World Globe, only the second to receive the honor following the President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.
At home, Bishop Linsey was a loving husband, father, grandfather and dedicated family man. He had a deep belief in family unity and the preservation of his family legacy. These beliefs led him to co-found the Forney-Fonney Family Reunion, which continues to unite old and new generations bi-annually.
By his side, in his ministry and personal journey, was Bishop Linsey’s devoted soul mate and wife of 60 years, Mae, or Macie, as he liked to call her. While making his transition in his final days, he remained the romantic, singing to Mae the classic love song “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers, which he had dedicated to her early in their marriage.
Bishop Nathaniel Linsey is survived by his devoted wife of 60 years, Mae C. Mills Linsey; four children: Nathaniel, Jr., Ricarldo (Gloria), Julius Wayne, and Angela; seven grandchildren: Tondaylea, Richanda, Courtney, Christopher, Linsey, Alana and Cianna; two brothers, Herbert L., Sr. (Hortense, deceased) and Wallace V., Sr. (Lillie Jean); sisters-in-law Ruby, Edith, Evelyn, Ethel, Velma, MaeBell Stewart and Vivian Ruth McCoy; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren, and spiritual sons and daughters. He was preceded in death by five brothers and one sister, Lizzie Mae, Samuel L., Jr., Wenislow, Lewis, Sr., Malvin Alfonso and Maxie.
For more information on home going services for the late Bishop Nathaniel Linsey, contact Murray Brothers Funeral Home at www.mbfh.com or visit www.c-m-e.org.