Bishop William Grove

By Sandra Steiner Ball

Dear Friends and Members of the West Virginia Conference,

It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness that I share with you that Bishop William Boyd Grove died yesterday, October 27, in Johnson City, TN after a two-month battle with osteomyelitis in the spine.  Please keep Mary Lou and the entire Grove family in your prayers.  

A Memorial Service is pending and will be held at Christ UMC in Charleston, WV.  Bishop Grove loved his Home among the Hills and continued to have a deep compassion and love for the people of West Virginia even after he and Mary Lou moved to Johnson City.

As I share this information with you, I grieve.  First and foremost, Bill Grove was a tremendous human being – loving, kind, compassionate, caring, faithful – a person and Christ follower who constantly put the needs of others before his own.  

He had a deep and abiding love for Mary Lou and was extremely proud of his entire family.  You couldn’t be with Bill without hearing about members of his family. Definitively, Bill’s life and faith rubbed off on his family because they too, put the needs of others before their own. When people married into the family – they really were not treated by Bill as in-laws, but as sons and daughters.  

Bill’s love, deep concern, and great care for God’s people extended well beyond his family.  He lived his life valuing and recognizing the sacred worth of all people. Bishop Grove was known and respected around the world – giving leadership to ecumenical, interfaith, and worldwide mission and ministry.  And while the whole of God’s creation and people were important to Bill, He deeply loved the people of West Virginia, choosing to spend his retirement here and continuing to support and lead mission and ministry among us.  He challenged all of us, to put the needs of others above our own.

Bill was a perpetual learner, always reading, always being curious, always asking questions.  He continued to participate in his Charleston area book study even after moving. 

Bishop Grove loved The United Methodist Church.  Throughout his life, he helped people to hear and discover God’s call on their lives and he came alongside people as they grew in their Christian discipleship.  As a Bishop, he helped this newly elected Bishop find her way, a gift for which I will forever be immensely grateful.  He came alongside me. Listened deeply. Lent me his wisdom and his support.  Helped me to think through things. And, He did this not only for me, but for every newly elected Bishop in The United Methodist Church.  There are many stories among the bishops about his help, love, support, and guidance.

But most of all, especially in his years of retirement, Bishop Grove was focused on his prayer ministry.  He breathed and lived prayerfully. Daily, he called on God’s Spirit to fill, give strength, give God’s wisdom, and enable Christ’s compassion in all of us who serve the church and minister with God’s people.

I give thanks to God for Bishop Grove, his life, and ministry. He was and is a blessing! He made a difference!  He impacted the world and the Church with Christ’s Good News!

His witness, life, and legacy will no doubt live on through those of us who loved and did ministry with him, as we now follow in his pathway putting the needs of others before our own.

With much love and thanks to God for the life and ministry of Bishop William Boyd Grove,

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball