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Episcopal Diocese of Virginia: Wikis


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Location of the Diocese of Virginia

The Diocese of Virginia is a diocese of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America encompassing 38 counties in the northern and central parts of the state of Virginia. It is one of the nine original Dioceses of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

The diocese has over 89,000 members in 197 congregations, and is thus the largest diocese in the Episcopal Church (USA). The current diocesan bishop is The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, 12th Bishop of Virginia. The diocese also has a suffragan bishop, The Rt. Rev. David Colin Jones, and a bishop coadjutor, The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston. Bishop Johnston, 48, served as rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Tupelo, Mississippi prior to his election in January 2007. He was consecrated on Saturday, May 26, 2007 at Washington National Cathedral. Johnson is expected to succeed Bishop Lee on October 1st, the date announced for the retirement of Bishop Lee as Diocesan Bishop.[1]

The diocese does not have a conventional cathedral church, rather an open-air cathedral, the Cathedral Shrine of the Transfiguration (Shrine Mont), which was consecrated in 1925. Shrine Mont in Orkney Springs, Virginia is also the site of a diocesan retreat and camp center. The diocese also operates the Virginia Diocesan Center at Roslyn in western Richmond, a conference center overlooking the James River. The see city is Richmond, and diocesan offices are located in the Mayo Memorial Church House in Richmond. Virginia Theological Seminary, the largest accredited Episcopal seminary in the United States, is located within the diocese in Alexandria, Virginia.



The Church of England, which had been the established church of Virginia, was disestablished beginning in 1784. The following year, the General Assembly of Virginia permitted Anglicans to organize their own church, but forbade the incorporation of this body, fearing another established church. In 1786, with the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson and supported by James Madison, both subsequently Presidents of the United States, it was firmly established that there would be no established church in Virginia.

The first diocesan convention, held in 1785, set up rules and regulations for conducting diocesan business and elected delegates to the first General Convention of the Episcopal Church to be held in September of that year in Philadelphia. At the second diocesan convention, in 1786, the Rev. Dr. David Griffith, who was both a surgeon and a priest, was elected to become the first Bishop of Virginia. He lacked the funds, however, to travel to England for his consecration, and in 1789, resigned his election, fell ill and died. The following year, James Madison, the president of the College of William and Mary, rector of James City parish, and cousin of the future president of the same name, was elected to become the first bishop of the diocese, travelled to England and was consecrated.[2]

Bishops of Virginia

These are the bishops who have served the Diocese of Virginia:[3]

  1. James Madison (1790 - 1812)
  2. Richard Channing Moore (1814 - 1841)
    *William Meade, Assistant (1829 - 1841)
  3. William Meade (1841 - 1862)
    *John Johns, Assistant (1842 - 1862)
  4. John Johns (1862 - 1876)
    *Francis McNeece Whittle, Assistant (1867 - 1876)
  5. Francis McNeece Whittle (1876 - 1902)
    *Alfred Magill Randolph, Assistant (1883 - 1892); named bishop of Southern Virginia
    *John Brockenbrough Newton, Assistant/Coadjutor (1894 - 1897)
    *Robert Atkinson Gibson, Coadjutor (1897 - 1902)
  6. Robert Atkinson Gibson (1902 - 1919)
    *Arthur Selden Lloyd, Coadjutor, (1909 - 1911?)
    *William Cabell Brown, Coadjutor (1914 - 1919)
  7. William Cabell Brown (1919 - 1927)
    *Henry St. George Tucker, Coadjutor (1926 - 1927)
  8. Henry St. George Tucker (1927 - 1943), elected presiding bishop in 1938
    *Frederick Deane Goodwin, Coadjutor (1930 - 1944)
  9. Frederick Deane Goodwin (1944 - 1960)
    *Wiley Roy Mason, suffragan (1942 - 1951), assistant (1951 - 1968)
    *Robert Fisher Gibson, Jr., suffragan (1949 - 1954), Coadjutor (1954 - 1960)
    *Samuel Blackwell Chilton, suffragan (1960 - 1969)
  10. Robert Fisher Gibson, Jr. (1961 - 1974)
    *Robert Bruce Hall, Coadjutor (1966 - 1974)
    *Philip Alan Smith, suffragan (1970 - 1972), elected bishop coadjutor of New Hampshire
    *John Alfred Baden, suffragan (1973 - 1979)
  11. Robert Bruce Hall (1974 - 1985)
    *David Henry Lewis, Jr., suffragan (1980 - 1987)
    *Peter James Lee, Coadjutor (1984 - 1985)
  12. Peter James Lee (1985 - )
    *Robert Poland Atkinson, Assistant (1989 - 1993)
    *F. Clayton Matthews, suffragan (1994 - 1998), named director of the Office of Pastoral Development
    *David Colin Jones, suffragan (1995 - )
    *Francis Campbell Gray, Assistant (1999 - 2007)
    *Shannon Sherwood Johnston, Coadjutor (2007 - )

Episcopal College Ministries in the Diocese of Virginia


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ The Episcopal Church Annual. Morehouse Publishing: New York, NY (2005)

External links



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