The first American-born bishop of the Methodist Church, William McKendree was closely associated with the establishment of the Methodist Church in Tennessee. Born in Virginia in 1757, McKendree visited Nashville as early as 1797. Three years later, he became the church’s Western District field marshal and took on the responsibility of organizing new churches and circuits and recruiting new preachers. McKendree proved to be “the superintendent who most significantly influenced the development of Methodism in Tennessee.” (1) Elected bishop in 1808, McKendree moved to Nashville permanently and lived there until his death. In 1812, with Bishop Francis Asbury, McKendree organized the Tennessee Conference, the general governing organization for Methodism in Tennessee.
His last sermon came at Nashville’s McKendree Methodist Church upon its dedication on November 23, 1834. McKendree died in 1835 and was buried in Sumner County; later his remains were reinterred at Vanderbilt University.