In memory of a missions pioneer: Rev. Virgil Maybray

By James V. Heidinger II

When I came to Good News in 1981 as president and publisher, the Rev. Virgil Maybray was already on staff as full-time executive secretary of Good News’ Evangelical Mission Council (EMC) ministry. He began in that position in 1975, after serving as a highly-respected clergy member in numerous churches there in the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference.

Virgil Maybray (right) and H.T. Maclin on cover of Good News in 1985

Virgil Maybray (right) and H.T. Maclin on cover of Good News in 1985

Maybray died on November 4 at the age of 96.

During his EMC days, Virgil was on the road about 80 percent of the time, holding missions conferences, speaking in and consulting with local churches about expanding their missions programs. During his traveling ministry, he really was also a pastor to pastors in a real sense, bringing encouragement to them in local churches, especially to some who might have been discouraged and in need of a major dose of encouragement. I treasured the times when he would return to Wilmore, Kentucky, and we would have the chance to visit and catch up. I would hear exciting stories of local churches that were coming alive with a vision for world missions. Those were precious times.

Virgil served with our EMC from 1975 until 1983. During that time, he ministered in more than 350 United Methodist churches in some 35 states. Astounding! He really knew well the people of the local church. He raised literally millions of dollars for missions, with a great deal of that channeled directly through the UM Mission Board’s Advance Special Programs. In 1984, he was invited to join the newly-formed Mission Society for United Methodists headquartered in Norcross, Georgia, as the second in command to Dr. H.T. Maclin. The Mission Society was a supplemental mission sending agency that was formed to help more United Methodists get to the mission field. So, at that time we released Virgil to the Mission Society with our prayers and full support. He had been a great asset to our ministry as well as to that of world missions during those eight years.

Virgil Maybray and his wife Jane.

Virgil Maybray and his wife Jane.

One of my responsibilities at Good News as president was to sign receipts of those who were supporting our ministry. One of the things I noticed very clearly was just how much support Good News received regularly from the Western Pennsylvania area. It didn’t take me long to realize that this was because Virgil was so highly respected in his conference and had traveled its length and breadth holding missions conferences.

Virgil Maybray was a faithful, consistent servant of Jesus Christ. He was a person of great integrity and that was evident in everything that he did. He believed the Gospel! Really believed it! And he was determined to live it out in his life every day. As Paul said to the Philippians, I would say about Virgil, “I thank my God for every remembrance of him.”

James V. Heidinger II is the president emeritus of Good News. 

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