Wilbur Wong Yan Choy

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Wilbur Wong Yan Choy (Chinese: 黃彥才; pinyin: Huáng Yàncái; born May 28, 1918) is a retired Bishop of the United Methodist Church, elected in 1972. He is the first Asian American elected a U.M. Bishop.

Birth and Family[edit]

Wilbur was born 28 May 1918 in Stockton, California, the son of Lie Yen and Ida Lee Choy. He married Grace Ying Hom 26 September 1940 (she died 26 December 1977). They have four children: Randolph W., Jonathan W., Phyllis W. (Mrs. LeRoy Seibert), and Donnell W.


Wilbur earned the A.A. degree from Stockton Junior College (1944); the B.A. degree from the College of the Pacific (1946); and the Bachelor of Divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion (1949). Bishop Choy also holds honorary doctorates from the Pacific School of Religion (D.D., 1969) and the University of Puget Sound.

Ordained ministry[edit]

While a college and seminary student, Wilbur served as Associate Pastor of the Chinese Methodist Church in Stockton. He was ordained Deacon by Bishop James Chamberlain Baker in 1946. Following seminary Wilbur was ordained Elder by Bishop Donald Tippett, joining the California-Oriental Provisional Conference, continuing to serve the church in Stockton.

In 1954 Rev. Choy was appointed to serve St. Mark's Methodist Church, Stockton, in the California-Nevada Annual Conference. He later held pastorates in Woodland and Sacramento, California, as well. In 1967 he served as Chaplain of the California Senate. In 1969 Rev. Choy was appointed Superintendent of the Bay View District.

Episcopal ministry[edit]

Rev. Choy was elected to the Episcopacy by the 1972 Western Jurisdictional Conference of the U.M. Church. He was assigned to the Seattle Episcopal Area, serving eight years. He was then assigned the San Francisco Episcopal Area, where he served for four years. He was President of the Council of Bishops of the U.M. Church, 1983-84. Bishop Choy also was a member of the Executive Committee of the National Conference of Chinese Churches.

Bishop Choy was an active member of the Board of Trustees of the Pacific School of Religion from 1970 until 1984. As such, he worked to strengthen the School's focus on Pacific Basin cross-cultural dialogue, diversity and excellence in ministry. Bishop Wilbur W.Y. Choy was named a Distinguished Alumni/ae of the Pacific School of Religion in 1997.

Bishop Choy retired in 1984.

Personal Appreciation[edit]

Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Pacific School of Religion, Mr. Robert Riddel, wrote in 1984 on behalf of the Board:

"Bishop Choy's commitment to equality, liberation and a world free from racism and war are evident to all. As bishop, superintendent and local church pastor, Choy has brought to his ministry pastoral sensitivity, prayerful depth, the strengthening of diverse ministries, administrative care, and a saving sense of humor."

See also[edit]


  • InfoServ, the official information service of The United Methodist Church. [1]
  • The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church [2][dead link]
  • 1997 Distinguished Alumni/ae, Pacific School of Religion.[3][dead link]

External links[edit]