W. Maynard Sparks
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Birth and family
He was born on 16 December 1906 in Rockwood, Pennsylvania, a son of the Rev. George A. and Sarah (Heefner) Sparks. His father was a Pastor in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (i.e., New Constitution). Bishop Sparks was married to Blanche May Frank Sparks, who died in 1989. They had three sons: Lynn (a clergy member of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference of the U.M. Church, who died in a mountain climbing accident in 1978), Fred of Elk Grove, California, and Robert of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. The Sparks also had four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren (at the time of the Bishop’s death).
W. Maynard Sparks earned a B.A. degree from (United Brethren) Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania. He earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree from his denomination’s only seminary, United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. He went on to earn a Master of Education degree from the University of Pittsburgh.
W. Maynard Sparks was granted a Quarterly Conference License to Preach at the age of thirteen! This was followed by a permanent license. Later, he entered the ministry of the Allegheny Annual Conference of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (i.e., New Constitution). He served as the Pastor of churches in Pennsylvania, as a Conference Superintendent, and as Assistant Professor of Religion and Chaplain at Lebanon Valley College. He was elected a delegate to the 1946 Uniting Conference, which joined the Evangelical Church and the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (i.e., New Constitution).
Sparks was elected to the Episcopacy of the E.U.B. Church in 1958 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. As a Bishop he supervised his denomination’s Western Area. Among the highlights of his ministry, Bishop Sparks represented the E.U.B. Church in 1961 at independence ceremonies for the African nation of Sierra Leone, where he later also presided over several annual conference sessions. The E.U.B. Church had engaged in missionary activities in that Nation for many years.
Following the 1968 merger of the E.U.B. and Methodist Churches, Bishop Sparks was assigned to the Seattle Episcopal Area, serving there until his retirement in 1972. While in Seattle, he also served for approximately eighteen months as interim Bishop of the Portland, Oregon Area following the death of Bishop Everett W. Palmer in January 1971.
Death and funeral
At the time of his death he was one of only two surviving Bishops of the former E.U.B. Church, the other being Bishop Paul W. Milhouse of Franklin, Indiana. At the time of the 1968 E.U.B.-Methodist merger, there were one retired and seven active E.U.B. Bishops. A memorial service for Bishop Sparks was held 25 August 1999 at 10:00 a.m. at the Faith United Methodist Church, 3600 J. Street, Sacramento, CA 95816.
- "Two Bishops Chosen By United Brethren". United Press International in the New York Times. October 12, 1958. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
The Evangelical United Brethren Church today elected two new bishops at its thirty-ninth quadrennial conference.
- "W. Maynard Sparks Dead at 92". United Methodist News Service. August 19, 1999. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
United Methodist Bishop W. Maynard Sparks, 92, one of two remaining bishops elected in the former Evangelical United Brethren (EUB) Church, died at his home in Sacramento, Calif., Aug. 17. ...
- United Methodist News Service.
- Milhouse, Paul W., Nineteen Bishops of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, Nashville, The Parthenon Press, 1974.