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A man of character and substance - 1911

James Varick, founder and first bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.


W. B. West was a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church during the early years of his life. In the Christian Index of 19 October 1911, Dr. R. H. King, a life-long friend, wrote an appreciation of him in which he spoke of the man’s steady rise to positions of increasing responsibility in the church. He told how West fought for life during his last four years of illness, “because he desired to live to work for God and his Church.” West lost that battle while traveling north from Texas for a change of climate that he hoped would improve his health. Here is King’s assessment of West’s character.


“He was a wise and useful legislator for the Church, and he watched keenly the interest of the same. He never fought men, but measures. He seldom lost a measure or resolution if allowed to speak to its merits. Dr. West had convictions and would stay with them at all hazards. If he favored you and believed in your administration, no foe could put him in the shadow of turning. The cause of missions did not suffer in his charge. He was faithful and constant in the discharge of his duties. Dr. West believed that a man, be he a preacher, lawyer, or doctor, should have some of this world’s goods, and he labored to this end. He paid taxes on more than ten thousand dollars worth of property in the city of Dallas. He was a factor in shaping the religious, moral, and civic destiny of our people in this city. There is not a Colored enterprise in Dallas but can point to Dr. West as one of its supporters or its organizers. The Church has lost a strong but tender Christian; the city, a wise and helpful citizen; the wife, a devoted husband. We can say, he never did a man an intentional wrong in a local or general way, but has helped many of them to live.”


Phillips, C. H. The History of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church in America: Comprising Its Organization, Subsequent Development and Present Status. Jackson, TN: Publishing House C.M.E. Church, 1925.

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