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William McKendree (1757-1835)

William McKendree was the first American-born Methodist bishop. He was born in Virginia and served in the American War of Independence. McKendree was raised an Anglican but joined a Methodist Society in about 1776. He entered the ministry in 1788 in the Virginia Conference.

McKendree separated from the Methodists for about a year following the O'Kelly dispute of 1792 but rejoined the Connexion after travelling briefly with Francis Asbury.

McKendree was elected bishop by the Conference of 1808 and after 1815 with Asbury's declining health, became effectively the head of the Church.

McKendrees own health forced a partial abdication of his responsibilities after 1820 but he continued to travel and assist in the supervision of the Church until his death.

Source: Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974)

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