(RNS) — The Rev. William Bobby McClain, a longtime leader in the United Methodist Church and the civil rights movement, died Wednesday (Nov. 18) at age 82.  

McClain was a pastor and professor who not only shaped the lives of the students he taught but also countless United Methodists with the creation of the groundbreaking hymnal “Songs of Zion” and as an original member of the group that organized Black Methodists for Church Renewal.

“One of the last of the young leaders of the Civil Rights Movement has passed. And a great hole opens up in the heart of the Wesley Seminary community,” Wesley Theological Seminary President David McAllister-Wilson said in a written statement. 

McClain began preaching as a teenager in his hometown of

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