The Rev. James Fred Walker Talley died Dec. 31, 2016. He was born to Rev. James Holloway Talley and the former Mabel Marie Cornelius July 6, 1940 in Kentucky. His parent’s wedding had been conducted by Rev. Edward Tullis, his father’s friend and brother-in-law, who would become bishop in the Columbia (SC) Area in 1972 and retire as Nashville Area Bishop in 1984.
Jim’s parents transferred from the Kentucky Conference to the Baltimore Conference and served churches in Carroll and Baltimore counties and in the City of Baltimore during Jim’s early years. Of his mother, Jim recalled in her 1997 memoir that, as a schoolteacher, “she was well ahead of her time in her interest in helping congregations understand the role of the ‘working’ pastor’s spouse and their need to be less expectant of her presence in many traditional parish functions.”; Jim himself did not immediately enter the ministry, but had a successful business career and held a law degree from the University of Baltimore.
Jim was appointed Program Director of the Conference Council on Ministries in 1971, the first layperson to hold that position in the church. It was then just six years after the merger of the Baltimore and Washington Conferences, four years after the merger of the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren Churches to create the UMC, and there were struggles associated with the new structure. Jim’s first report quoted Matthew 9:23 - “Everything is possible to the one who believes” and then concluded:
“Sometimes I wish I were a theologian so that I could have the benefit of a thorough and enriched search of the Scriptures, but I do know that I believe and trust in Jesus and that he will use the United Methodists of this area to be sensitive to the needs of people wherever they are and wherever they may be. This is our heritage.”;
It was in his capacity of Conference Program Director that Jim worked toward acquisition of the Strawbridge House, one of the first four designated shrines of The Methodist Church and one of the original Heritage Landmarks of the UMC. Acquisition of 32 acres of the colonial Strawbridge Farm was completed in 1973. Jim’s interest in the site did not abate after he left the Conference Council in 1978, however, and he took part in the development of the Shrine property as a historic park over the next decade.
Jim was licensed to preach in 1992 and served Mt. Zion Church, Finksburg for seven years during which he was ordained Deacon (1997) and Elder (2000). He served another seven years in active ministry at Grace, Black Rock (Hampstead) in Baltimore County and then at Asbury, Arnold in Anne Arundel County.
In retirement, he purchased the property on Wirt Rd. adjacent to the Strawbridge property. He married the former Kim Greenwalt in the Shrine’s Log Meetinghouse and Jim and Kim recently donated the gazebo at the trailhead.
Condolences may be sent to his wife, Kimberly, at P.O. Box 33, New Windsor, MD 21776.