Every time he walks into his office, the Rev. Dr. Ron Robinson ’78 gets a reminder from Bishop Marshall L. “Jack” Meadors Jr. ’55.
The room was renovated in memory of Meadors’ late wife, Hannah, and a plaque outside the office door bears their names.
“Each time I am reminded that the chaplain’s office has to be a place where everyone is welcomed, because that is who the Meadors family is,” says Robinson, Perkins-Prothro Chaplain and Professor of Religion.
Meadors, a retired United Methodist bishop and a former member of the Wofford College Board of Trustees (2001-13) died May 25 in Anderson, South Carolina. He was the father of current trustee James C. Meadors ’81.
Meadors was a loyal, energetic and creative friend to Wofford, says the Rev. Dr. Will Willimon ’68, professor of the practice of Christian ministry at Duke Divinity School, retired United Methodist bishop and a Wofford trustee.
“Amid all of his other responsibilities as bishop and church leader, he always found time for Wofford. His leadership in the area of racial reconciliation at Wofford with the establishment of the Meadors Family endowments is particularly noteworthy. In this, and in so many other moments of justice advocacy, Jack gave a fine Christian witness so that future generations of Wofford grads might make some of the same contributions to the betterment of humanity.”
Meadors was ordained elder in the United Methodist Church in 1958, and he served several churches in South Carolina and Georgia. In 1992, he was elected bishop and assigned to the Mississippi area. He retired in 2000.
Throughout his career, Meadors held a variety of leadership positions. He was president of the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference, an organization of religious leaders who worked to promote tolerance and understanding of diversity. He also was a director of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, a director of the General Board of Church and Society, and he chaired the Council of Bishops’ Initiative on Children and Poverty from 1995-2000.
In 1999, he was a member of a delegation, led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, that traveled to Belgrade to secure the release of three American prisoners of war during the NATO bombing. He then led a delegation to Macedonia to visit refugee camps and to visit Kosovo to assess the war damage in Pristina and the outlying villages.
Meadors was elected to two terms on the Anderson County District 5 School Board. He also was appointed to the Joint Legislative Committee on Aging and the state Commission on Aging by former Gov. Dick Riley. Riley later awarded him the Order of the Palmetto, that state’s highest civilian honor.
Meadors was not afraid to get into “good trouble.” He was arrested twice – once while protesting the Iraq war in March 2007 and again in July 2014 while protesting immigration deportation policies.
“I didn't hear many sermons Bishop Meadors delivered, but I frequently saw how he interacted with others,” says Robinson. “Always open and focused on the person with whom he was interacting, inevitably he was kind. Actually, kindly confrontational. Once he asked me why I hadn't been arrested lately for standing up for something.”