Edward Gonzalez Carroll, 89, United Methodist bishop

January 05, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Edward Gonzalez Carroll, a United Methodist bishop and former pastor of Sharp Street Memorial United Methodist Church, died Saturday of a brain tumor at the Hospice of North Central Florida in Gainesville. He would have turned 90 on Friday.

During his long career in Methodism, he served congregations in Baltimore, Silver Spring, Manhattan and the Bronx.

He was born in Wheeling, W. Va., where his father, also a Methodist minister, had a church. His grandfather, Henry Carroll, was born in Calvert County, became charter member of the Washington Conference and was ordained a Methodist minister the day after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.

Bishop Carroll graduated from Washington's Dunbar High School in 1926 and from what is now Morgan State University in 1930. He also received a degree from the Yale School of Divinity in 1933.

His first pulpit was St. Andrew's Methodist Church in Mount Washington, where he began preaching in 1933. He subsequently preached in Salem, Va. and in Grafton-Buchanan, W.Va.

In 1941, he received a master's degree from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University.

He was an Army chaplain during World War II and was stationed along the Alaska-Canadian pipeline during its construction and at the Allied front on the Normandy beaches in France.

After his wartime service, he became associate pastor and director of Christian education at St. Mark's Church in Harlem, New York and until 1955 was pastor of Epworth Methodist Church in the Bronx.

"His strength was in his pastoral leadership," said his son, Edward G. Carroll of Baltimore. "He was the kind of person who brought people together. He was the embodiment of reconciliation and Christian outreach."

During his tenure at Sharp Street Memorial Methodist from 1955 to 1962, Bishop Carroll worked to improve conditions in the neighborhood around his church at Dolphin and Etting streets.

"Denizens of the underworld -- from the numbers racket to the most serious criminals -- are our shady neighbors," he said in a 1958 Sun interview. "The problem is making these children feel wanted. It isn't easy getting sons and daughters off the street to church parties and meetings."

In 1956, he appeared before a tense City Council to which the police commissioner had recommended that minors who lied about their age to obtain liquor should be given jail sentences.

Bishop Carroll joined other clergy opposed to the proposal because he thought jail sentences would only convert minors into hardened criminals.

In 1962, he demonstrated on the steps of the State Capitol in Annapolis in support of public accommodations legislation.

He gave the first prayer and asked that blacks be given a "Heaven of freedom" and "their proper rights." He then led the group in singing "God Bless America."

His Methodist superiors named him to a racially integrated church, Marvin Memorial in Silver Spring, where he served throughout the 1970s.

He was elected a bishop of the United Methodist Church July 12, 1972, at the church's Northeast Jurisdictional Conference in Reading, Pa. He retired in 1980.

In 1973, he was named alumnus of the year at Morgan State's commencement exercises. He helped establish the Morgan Christian Center, served as its interim director in the 1980s and taught philosophy and religion at the university.

He was a Boston University trustee from 1972 to 1980.

He played tennis through his 80s.

His wife of 65 years, the former Phenola Valentine Carroll, died June 30.

A memorial service in Baltimore is planned. There will be a memorial service Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the University Methodist Church in Gainesville.

Besides his son, he is survived by a daughter, Nansi Ethelene Carroll of Gainesville, and two grandsons.

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