Tribute: William “Bill” Metcalf

Bill Metcalf PhotoBut thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1Co 15:57-58 KJV).

On Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023, my grandfather, William Carl Metcalf, passed into glory. The day before, we had finished reading the Gospel of John with Grandpa, and in his passing, I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul writes that, because Christ has indeed risen again, the Christian too will experience resurrection. The chapter ends with the verses above, and I believe the instruction to be faithful is one that characterized my grandfather’s life.

Bill, as he was known to most, was born in Petrolia, Ontario, on September 15, 1940, to Carl and Helen Metcalf. He grew up on a farm in Lambton County and was the oldest of five children. He was raised under the sound of the gospel, but it wasn’t until his late teens that he got serious about his soul. In the summer of 1959, he attended a gospel series in Lake Shore with Mr. James Lipke and Mr. Norman Crawford. He became troubled about his soul and the boundlessness of eternity. On August 26, 1959, the truth of Isaiah 53:6 was brought home to him by the Spirit of God, and the truth of John 3:36 confirmed to his soul that he had eternal life. On that day, he went in at the first “all” of Isaiah 53:6 and came out in the last “all.”

Shortly after, he was baptized in the waters of Lake Huron at Ipperwash. He said there was joy in acting in obedience to the Man in heaven who died for him. He was then received into assembly fellowship at a small country assembly in Glen Rae, Ontario.

In the following years, he met his wife, Janet Rogers, and they were married on July 7, 1962, at the Monticello Gospel Hall. After their marriage, they resided in Sarnia, Ontario, and Bill worked as an accountant and office manager at a small local department store.

Bill and Janet had five children: Judy, James, Jonathan, Joanne and Joel. Bill was a gentle, patient and steady father. He taught his kids in both spiritual and practical matters and always shared wisdom and guidance.

Bill was involved in the Sarnia assembly, and particularly enjoyed the Sunday School and door-to-door work, and shared in a gospel series prior to being commended. He was commended by the assembly in Sarnia to full-time gospel work in 1969. He spent the next 50+ years being faithful in gospel work, sharing in many gospel series throughout Canada and the United States.

During those early years, Bill and Jim Beattie spent time between 1970 and 1975 in the town of Wallaceburg, Ontario, where God worked in the new effort they shared there. They rented a building and started having children’s meetings and soon after also had gospel meetings in that building. As the work continued, souls were saved and baptized, and doors opened to buy the building in 1971. As God continued to work, the regular Wednesday night gospel meeting was soon changed to a Bible reading and assembly truths were taught. These new believers expressed their exercise to gather to the Lord’s name. On the last Lord’s Day of October 1975, these believers broke bread for the first time there, and the Wallaceburg assembly continues on in testimony to this day.

Bill spent time in gospel work throughout Ontario, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin. He said one of the highlights was sharing in speaking with Norman Crawford (Bill’s spiritual father) in 1976 and 1991 at the Lake Shore Gospel Hall. Through the years he always made time to visit some of the smaller assemblies for both gospel series and ministry. He enjoyed studying the Bible and sharing his knowledge of the Bible’s teachings. Bill created a chart on “Egypt to Canaan” and spoke on it in different ministry series.

Bill is remembered by many as a calm and gentle man who took a genuine interest in others. He built good relationships wherever he went. He spent a lot of time in correspondence through mail and email, always offering an encouraging word.

In the Sarnia assembly, Bill consistently came to the meeting to be a help and encourage the believers. Brother John Prins, an elder in the Sarnia assembly, shared these thoughts of Bill:

“When I consider the life of William Metcalf, I am impressed by a man who lived out these words – faithful consistency. In the fine flour of the meal offering, we are taught there were no strong points in the life of the Lord Jesus because there were no weak points. This same evenness of character marked the life of our dear brother. My first personal recollection was of his commendation to the Lord’s work in 1969. Over the next 54 years as a member of the Sarnia assembly, we had hundreds of public and private interactions, and almost all of them were positive and encouraging. I can only recall one time when there was private counsel to me that the oversight needed a slight course correction. After consideration and in hindsight, his counsel turned out to be correct. From Bible readings to the ministry of the Word and gospel preaching, brother William faithfully taught us the Scriptures. He was particularly good at having a short and encouraging word on Psalm 23 at the end of a prayer meeting. We do well to think of the simple instruction to the Hebrew believers when they considered those spiritual leaders who had gone before to be with Christ ‘whose faith follow.’ Our earnest prayer is that we would all end our days like our brother William, in fellowship with God and with his people.”

Bill’s life was one of faithfulness to his Lord. Though he will be missed by all who knew him, we have a great hope in Christ’s resurrection that we will see him again in glory!

Bill is survived by his wife Janet, five children, twelve grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

A funeral service was held on April 13, 2023, at the Sarnia Gospel Hall. James Beattie, Jack Nesbitt and family members spoke at his funeral service, and Jim Chisholm spoke at the graveside.