Dr. William Alvin Ury
Dr. William Alvin Ury, 80, of Wilmore, KY, passed away June 22, 2010.
Bill was born April 10, 1930, in Akron and met Jesus at age 12. Though growing up without a father, he was able to keep a focus on Christ through all his formative years at Baldwin-Wallace and Drew Seminary.
He met Beth Callis, the love of his life, at Drew in the early 50s, as both were preparing to serve as missionaries in Asia. Dr. Ury pastored for a few years at Willoughby Hills UMC in Northeast Ohio. As their new building was under construction the growing church met camp-style in the nearby woods. The local newspaper posted pictures of Rev. Ury preaching under the trees.
Shortly thereafter, a door opened up to serve in Taiwan, followed by an intense year of language study at Yale. The year 1960 found the Urys, now with Billy (1956) and Thane (1958) on a boat sailing to the far East to begin church planting and ministering to refugees who escaped Mao's China. More language acquisition and adjustment followed in the southern city of Tainan, before the family headed to the port city of Kaohsiung to plant a church by the storied Love River. Later they purchased a remote plot of land in the rice paddies to build Wesley Chapel, which today stands on one of the busiest intersections in this city of 1.5 million.
In 1961, twins Faith and Hope were born in Kaohsiung. Complications developed and Faith battled between life and death for the first months of her life. This lingering illness was a critical factor in the shaping of Bill's pastoral heart; in fact it has been suggested that Bill and Beth's passion and commitment during these initial years is the chief reason all their other children are in ministry today. Not only did the Ury kids witness their parent's daily faith in action through answered prayers, but they also gained an appreciation for lives lived for the spread of the Gospel in spite of difficulties.
Grace joined the family in 1963. The Ury's moved several times around the island of Taiwan strengthening the Chinese church in Taichung and Taipei. Bill even served for a short while as a Navy chaplain to US sailors on duty in Kaohsiung. In the mid-60s, Rev. Ury was asked to pastor the Taipei International Church, a non-denominational, English-speaking church that reached out to expatriates. In 1976, the family returned to the States for a year of home assignment but ended up serving various churches in northeast Ohio for the next decade, including serving First United Methodist Church in Carrollton from 1977-1982, along with churches in Warren and Parma. But the tug in their hearts toward the harvest never waned, and they could not resist taking a position with the TransWorld Radio in Hong Kong. Here they orchestrated 20+ hours of Chinese-Christian programming per week to be broadcast into China. Bill was instrumental in making broadcasting inroads into Burma. After several years, they moved to the TWR offices in Singapore.
Even after "retiring" to the US, they continued to represent various mission organizations, traveling, speaking and recruiting English teachers for Mainland China; mostly with OMS International. The last leg of his life in Avon Park and Wilmore can be fairly characterized as follows: tirelessly helping to assist as many harvesters as possible, and by any means, to sow seeds of redemption in China!
For over 50 years, Dr. Ury served the Lord with his gladness and left a legacy of countless blessed souls, parishioners, friends and colleagues. His five children, two daughters-in-law, two sons-in-law and 15 grandchildren are grateful recipients of a still more focused love; from one so easy to revere, but so difficult to emulate. Bill Jr. has been teaching theology at Wesley Biblical Seminary for 21 years; Thane, after teaching Bible for 15 years at Bethel College, is now serving with the OMS in the Far East; Hope is a career missionary with the Free Methodist Church in Brazil; Grace is also a career missionary in Brazil with the Wesleyan Church and Faith is stationed at Baddour House in Mississippi.
Bill was the consummate husband, rarest of fathers and indefatigable foot solider for the kingdom. Well done, good and faithful servant! Sola Dei Gloria!
Funeral services were held June 26 in Wilmore Free Methodist Church in Wilmore, KY. Interment followed in Wilmore Cemetery.