Charles David Williams was born July 30, 1860 in Bellevue, Ohio. He was educated at Kenyon College and Bexley Theological Seminary at Kenyon where he was ordained deacon in 1883 and priest in 1884 in the Episcopal Church. Williams served in different Ohio communities: as priest of Fernbank and Riverside (1884-1889); as deacon at St. Paul's in Steubenville (1889-1893); and as dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland (1893-1906). In 1906, he was called as bishop of the Michigan Diocese of the Episcopal Church where he served until his death in 1923.
In his religious and social views, Williams was a liberal clergyman in the mold of Walter Rauschenbush. Williams believed that the church should play an active role in resolving social problems. Although convinced that the church would always need to minster to individual philanthropic causes, he argued equally vigorously that the established denominations, in their teachings and advocacy of basic principles, should support reform of the economic and industrial system that many saw as the root of the ills of the day.
Through his writings and addresses, Williams became internationally, known attending several of the Lambeth Conferences meeting in London. He was a member of the commission of church leaders that investigated the steel industry. He was national president of the Church League for Industrial Democracy. And in 1921, he attended a seminar in England that studied the English labor movement in its relation with the church.
Williams died February 14, 1923.