The Rev. Gerald W. Weiss (Baltimore Sun / April 18, 2014)

The Rev. Gerald W. "Jerry" Weiss, a pastor of United Methodist churches in Maryland who enjoyed collecting and repairing antique clocks, died April 6 of heart failure at the Charlestown retirement community. He was 84.

"His use by God went beyond local churches," said the Rev. James H. Farmer, pastor of Severna Park United Methodist Church. "Jerry's life was a gift to the church and as a pastor of God."

The son of a United Methodist minister and a homemaker, Gerald William Weiss was born and raised in Ashley, Ill., and later moved to Albion, Ill., where he graduated in 1947 from Albion Community High School.

After earning a bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1951 from McKendree College in Lebanon, Ill., Dr. Weiss attended the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta from 1951 to 1952.

He was a student pastor at several United Methodist churches in Troy, Ill., and then worked as a missionary in Nagoya, Japan, for three years before returning to the U.S. in 1955 and earning his doctoral degree in theology at Boston University.

Ordained a United Methodist minister, Dr. Weiss was pastor of Linden United Methodist Church from 1959 to 1960, when he became pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Landover Hills. He participated in the 1963 March on Washington led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

From 1968 to 1972, when he completed missionary training in Costa Rica, he served as a pastor at churches in Montevideo, Uruguay, and in The Hague, Netherlands, before being appointed pastor of Francis Asbury United Methodist Church in 1980.

Dr. Weiss was then pastor of Severna Park United Methodist Church from 1980 to 1988, when he joined the Cabinet of the Baltimore-Washington Conference as superintendent of its Southwest District and served as an assistant to the bishop.

He spent the last several years of his pastoral career at Chevy Chase United Methodist Church, from which he retired in 1999.

"Jerry was a very ecumenical, inclusive, warm and loving man," said his wife of 38 years, the former Stephanie Phillips.

"I knew Jerry when he served in the Conference. He was a wonderfully gifted person as both a United Methodist pastor, in the missionary field and as an administrator," recalled Mr. Farmer. "He had a good heart."

He described Dr. Weiss as a "very good preacher."

"He had an excellent voice and spoke with deep conviction. Jerry represented the ministry and the various ways of God," he said.

Dr. Weiss, who had lived at the Catonsville retirement community for the past five years, collected and repaired antique clocks.

"Jerry loved working with clocks, and he wanted to do it full time," said Mrs. Weiss. "So Jerry went and studied with a master clockmaker. He collected key-wind clocks, and they were all historic."

Dr. Weiss was also an avid reader.

"He read profusely and amassed an immense library," his wife said. "When we were living in Chevy Chase, he gave away a lot of his books to a small beginning seminary."

He remained intellectually active and liked attending lectures and discussion groups, family members said.

Dr. George R. Brenneman, a retired pediatrician and Charlestown resident, shared numerous interests with Dr. Weiss.

"We had a common connection because we were both interested in nonviolent philosophy. I grew up in a Mennonite environment, and he was interested in Mennonite philosophy and theologians," said Dr. Brenneman.

"He liked discussing topics that were controversial, and I enjoyed listening to him," he said. "When we had debates, he usually won."

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. May 27 at Severna Park United Methodist Church, 731 Enfield Road, Severna Park.

In addition to his wife, Dr. Weiss is survived by a son, William McKendree Weiss of Catonsville; a brother, the Rev. Raymond James Weiss, a United Methodist minister, of Frostproof, Fla.; a sister, Martha Weiss of St. Louis; and four grandchildren. A daughter, Lisa Weiss, died in 1974.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com