Walter Russell Lambuth

Class of 1875

Born in Shanghai, China as the eldest son of pioneering Methodist missionaries in Asia, Walter Russell Lambuth was raised by relatives in Tennessee and Mississippi. Lambuth graduated from Emory & Henry in 1875, and earned advanced degrees in both medicine and theology from Vanderbilt University in 1877. Ordained an elder in the Tennessee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, he returned to China with his wife Daisy Kelly as a medical missionary.

From 1877 until 1885, with only a brief period for further study in America, Lambuth worked as the most notable western medical figure in China, founding an opium treatment center in Shanghai, opening the Soochow Hospital, and establishing what became the Rockefeller Hospital in Beijing. In 1887, he and his parents founded the Methodist Episcopal Church, South mission in Japan, and Lambuth turned from practicing medicine to educational and evangelistic work.

From 1892 to 1910, Lambuth served as Secretary of the Board of Missions and became a world leader in ecumenical causes, leading the church to establish missions in Cuba and Korea. In 1910, Lambuth was elected Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South for Brazil and Africa. He opened Methodist missions in Latin America, the Belgian Congo and central and west Africa and carried the work of the Church into Siberia, Manchuria and Korea.

Bishop Lambuth, the greatest medical missionary in 19th century Methodism, was commemorated by the naming of Lambuth University in Jackson, Tennessee in his honor.