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Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee: Wikis

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Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee
Arms of Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee
Province IV (Southeast)
Bishop Charles G. vonRosenberg
Cathedral St. John's Cathedral
Subdivisions
Congregations 45
Membership 16,000[1]
Website Diocese of East Tennessee
Map of Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee

The Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee is the diocese of the Episcopal Church that geographically coincides with the political region known as the Grand Division of East Tennessee. The geographic range of the Diocese of East Tennessee was originally part of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee, which was partitioned into three separate dioceses during 1982–1985. It is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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Statistics

Included in the diocese are 34 counties in East Tennessee and three counties in northern Georgia, with the Cumberland Plateau forming the western border. Forty-five congregations compose the diocese, with the bishop's seat at St. John's Cathedral in Knoxville. The cathedral was an existing parish that the diocese designated as its see after the secession from the statewide diocese. The diocese maintains weekday offices at a site in western Knoxville, adjacent to the Episcopal School of Knoxville.

History

When a number of planters from Virginia and North Carolina brought their Anglicanism with them to Tennessee, they largely bypassed the rugged, mountainous terrain of the eastern part of the state, in favor of fertile lands in the middle and western parts of the state to grow tobacco and cotton. Therefore, prior to the Civil War, only a few towns in the region had Episcopal congregations. It was not until well into the 20th century that significant growth occurred in East Tennessee, facilitated in large measure by mission-minded bishops and priests.

Prior to the division of the diocese, the seat of the bishop was St. Mary's Cathedral in Memphis, over 250 miles away from most of the eastern part of the state. However, by the 1960s, the statewide diocese had offices in Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville, staffed by a diocesan and two suffragan bishops, one of each stationed in one of the offices (although one of the bishops, Knoxville-based William E. Sanders, was actually a bishop coadjutor). When Sanders succeeded John Vander Horst as diocesan in 1977, talks began to separate the statewide diocese into three territories; the plans were approved by the General Convention in 1982. First, the western counties of the state were excised to form the Diocese of West Tennessee, in 1983. Then, two years later, the East Tennessee diocese came into existence. Bishop Sanders, having the choice to stay with the continuing mid-state diocese or become the new diocese's first bishop, chose to remain in Knoxville, where he had been stationed for years. He became the inaugural diocesan until his retirement, when he was succeeded by Robert G. Tharp. The Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg is the third, and present, bishop of East Tennessee.

Unlike some nearby Southern dioceses, the East Tennessee diocese has not undergone significant turmoil and division due to controversies stemming from the consecration of a practicing homosexual, Gene Robinson, to the episcopate of the Diocese of New Hampshire in 2004. This is largely because the main constituencies protesting the action, evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics, have relatively little presence in the diocese, most of whose parishes and missions prefer a tolerant, Broad Church understanding of doctrine and practice.

There are approximately 150 clergy in the diocese, including those serving congregations, non-parochial and retired priests, and deacons. A preponderance of the diocese's communicants reside in the metropolitan areas of Knoxville and Chattanooga; however, the church is well represented in the small towns of the diocese, probably to a greater extent than the territories of the other two dioceses in the state.

Bishops of Tennessee before the creation of the Diocese of East Tennessee

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