Bishop Williams, a Virginia farmer’s son, was born in Richmond on July 18, 1829, and was brought up in financially straitened circumstances by his widowed mother. He attended the College of William and Mary and the Virginia Theological Seminary.
Ordained deacon in 1855, he offered himself for work in China, where he was ordained priest in 1857. Two years later, he was sent to Japan and opened work in Nagasaki. His first convert was baptized in 1866, the year he was chosen bishop for both China and Japan.
After 1868, he decided to concentrate all his work on Japan, following the Meiji Restoration that restored imperial rule to Japan and lead to great social and political changes that opened Japan to renewed contact with the Western world. Relieved of his responsibility for China in 1874, Williams made his base at Edo (now Tokyo), where he founded a divinity school, later to become St Paul’s University. At a synod in 1887 he helped bring together the English and American missions to form the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Holy Catholic Church of Japan, when the Church there numbered fewer than a thousand communicants.
Williams translated parts of the Prayer Book into Japanese, and he was a close friend and warm supporter of Bishop Samuel Isaac Schereschewsky, his successor in China, in the latter’s arduous work of translating the Bible into Chinese.
After resigning his jurisdiction in 1889, Bishop Williams stayed in Japan to help his successor there, Bishop John McKim, who was consecrated in 1893. Williams lived in Kyoto and continued to work in the opening of new mission stations until his return to America in 1908. He died in Richmond on December 2, 1910.
adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts
Almighty and everliving God, we thank you for your servant Channing Moore Williams, whom you called to preach the Gospel to the people of China and Japan. Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.