Celebrating Women's History Month in the WNCC: Rev. M.B. Lee McCrary
March 25, 2022
By: Jim Pyatt, WNCC Archivist & Historian
Rev. M. B. Lee McCrary
The Rev. M. B. Lee McCrary (March 21, 1907-June 6, 1994) was the first woman to become a full clergy member of the Western North Carolina Conference. With women first being permitted to become full clergy members of The Methodist Church by action at the 1956 General Conference, M. B. was received into the Western North Carolina Conference On Trial in 1957 and into Full Connection in 1959.
In 1944, while living in Elkin, M. B. began to respond to God’s call upon her heart to full-time Christian ministry and was licensed to preach in that year. In 1946 she was first listed as a local preacher. At Annual Conference the following year (1947), she was appointed to Hazelwood, where she served until 1952. In addition to Hazelwood, she served the following appointments: Whittier, 1952-54; Fines Creek, 1954-58; Bethel-Crowell, 1958-65; Blair Road, 1965-68; Azalea-Tabernacle, 1968-69; and Crabtree, 1969-71. M. B. was ordained a Deacon in 1948 and ordained an Elder in 1953.
M. B. was never one to bring attention to herself, only to the Lord whom she loved and served faithfully. Yet, she was one who did not hesitate to enter into previously uncharted areas. For her to respond to God’s call to ministry meant that she had to blaze new trails for women clergy.
As a minister, M. B. was always known as an outstanding pastor to her congregations. Of special interest and concern to her were the children and youth, and she especially sought to share Christ’s love with them and to help them to grow in the faith. She also paid careful attention to details, always doing things “by the book,” to make sure that there were no questions on how she handled any given situation.
Be sure to read the other biographies written by WNCC Archivist & Historian Jim Pyatt:
Mrs. Margaret Dixon, the first woman to be appointed a pastor to a Methodist congregation within the bounds of the present Western North Carolina Conference.
Rev. Dolores Barus Queen, the first woman to serve as District Superintendent in the Western NC Conference.
Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer, the first (and to date, the only) woman to serve as Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference.
Mrs. Jettie Morrison, a key figure in the Women's Society of Christian Service and the integration of The United Methodist Church in 1968.
Bishop L. Scott Allen (May 4, 1918-September 18, 2004), the first (and to date, the only) African-American to serve as Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference.
Mrs. Effie Miller (September 17, 1930-September 1, 2008), a leader in the Western North Carolina Conference and the United Methodist Church, especially with regard to the United Methodist Women.
The Rev. Dr. J. C. Peters (July 10, 1925- July 2, 1998), the first African-American to serve as a District Superintendent in the Western North Carolina Conference.
Mr. Clarence Winchester, a leader in the North Carolina Conference (Central Jurisdiction) and in the WNC Conference.
Dr. Isaac Miller (September 26, 1920-November 1, 2008), a leader in Higher Education and in the United Methodist Church.