Celebrating Black History Month in the WNCC: Rev. Cecil Harvey Marcellus, Jr.

February 9, 2023

By: Jim Pyatt, WNCC Archivist & Historian

Rev. Cecil Harvey Marcellus, Jr. (February 26, 1922 - July 5, 2006)

The Rev. Cecil Marcellus served with distinction in the WNC Conference, providing leadership both as a District Superintendent and as Associate Director of the Council on Ministries. A native of Nashville, TN, he served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Upon his return he enrolled at Tennessee A & I University, from which he graduated in 1949. After 20 years in general contracting, he answered the call to ministry, studying at Vanderbilt Divinity School and Garrett Biblical Institute, receiving the B. D. degree from the latter in 1960. The Rev. Marcellus was ordained a Deacon in 1956 and Elder in 1962. He was received into the Tennessee Conference (Central Jurisdiction) On Trial in 1956 and was admitted into Full Connection in 1962. He transferred into the North Carolina-Virginia Conference (Central Jurisdiction) in 1965. While a clergy member of the North Carolina-Virginia Conference and the subsequent Western North Carolina Conference he served the following appointments: St. Paul (Reidsville) 1965-68); St. Paul (Reidsville)-Wentworth 1968-69; St. Paul (Reidsville)-Wesley Chapel 1969-74; Northeast District Superintendent 1974-79; Associate Director, Conference Council on Ministries 1979-84; Thomasville/Lexington District Superintendent 1984-89. Following his retirement in 1989 the Rev. Marcellus served as Ethnic Church Consultant 1989-90; Metropolitan (Greensboro) 1991-92; Madison Circuit 1993-95; and Collins Grove (Greensboro) 1998-99.

The Rev. Marcellus served at various times on the Committee on Conference Entertainment, the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, the Conference Board of Missions (including serving as Vice-Chair 1972-74), the Committee on Black Church Development, and the Board of Discipleship. He was elected as a delegate to Jurisdictional Conference in 1976, 1980, 1984, and 1988, serving also as a delegate to General Conference in 1980 and 1988. He also served as a member of the General Commission on Religion and Race 1988-96.

In 1968 Cecil Marcellus was the first African-American elected to the Reidsville City Council, where he served for three full terms and part of a fourth term. He also served a full term and part of a second term as Mayor pro-tem, resigning when he moved to Winston-Salem as a District Superintendent. Wherever he served, the Rev. Marcellus was an active part of the community, serving on numerous boards and agencies.

Through his many years of ministry and service, the Rev. Marcellus served faithfully, seeking to share the love of Jesus with all people. We celebrate his many contributions to the life and ministry of the WNC Conference.

Be sure to read the other biographies written by WNCC Archivist & Historian Jim Pyatt:

Dr. David Dallas Jones, the president of Bennett College from 1926-1955.

Rev. William Hornbuckle, a Native American ordained Deacon in 1928 and Elder in 1931.

Daphine Strickland, part of the Task Force that led to the organization of Triad Native American Church, the first Native American congregation in our Conference outside of Cherokee.

Thomas Queen, the Director of the Cherokee Mission from 1973 until his death in 1992.

Jeremiah Wolfe, the first Native American to be elected a delegate to General Conference from the WNCC in 1976.

Rev. David Ortigoza, the Director of Hispanic and Latino Ministries for the SEJ in 2003.

Rev. Diana Wingeier-Rayo, the first Hispanic/Latina woman to be received into full clergy membership in the WNC Conference.

Raul Adriano, the first known person of Hispanic/Latino heritage to be elected by The WNCC to serve as a Lay Delegate to General Conference.

Rev. Carlos Alberto Rodriguez, a key figure at the Board of Missions Office of The WNCC in 1961.

Rev. Dr. Abraham Kim, the first Asian-American to be elected as a clergy delegate to Jurisdictional Conference from the WNC Conference.

Rev. Karen Miyoshi Kagiyama, the first Asian-American women to be ordained an Elder in the WNCC.

In Muk Kim, the first Asian-American to be elected as a delegate (clergy or lay) to Jurisdictional Conference from the WNC Conference.

Rev. M. B. Lee McCrary, the first woman to become a full clergy member of the 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.

#BeUMC Personal Reflections