Religion: Take On Responsibilities

The tall (6 ft. 3 in.), well-poised bishop on the rostrum rapped for order and the 700-odd members settled down. So this week, at the 100th annual Conference of the Southern California-Arizona Methodist Church at the University of Redlands, 71-year-old Bishop Alexander Preston Shaw became the first Negro to preside full-time over a conference of white Methodists.

Born in northern Mississippi, the eighth of "just eleven children" of ex-slave parents, Alexander Shaw started out to be a public-school teacher, but finally followed his father and an elder brother into the ministry. At one of his first assignments, in Winchester, Va., Dr....