J. Neil Alexander

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John Neil Alexander is the 9th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, being elected to that office March 31, 2001. On July 7, 2001, Bishop Alexander was installed as bishop in a service at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, Georgia. As of October 13, 2009, he is the Chancellor of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.


Alexander was born January 23, 1954, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1976 he married Lynn Tesh Alexander, a pediatric nurse practitioner. They are the parents of three adult children, John, Kelly and Mary Catherine and grandparents of John Neil Alexander III.

He graduated from Moravian College in 1976 with a B.A. degree in Music. In 1979, he obtained a M.Mus. degree from the University of South Carolina.

In 1980, Alexander earned a M.Div. degree from the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. He was ordained by the North Carolina Synod of the Lutheran Church in America. His first parish was Faith Lutheran Church in Murray Hill, New Jersey.

From there, Alexander took up doctoral studies at The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church (TEC), and in 1984 became Professor of Liturgics and Spirituality and Dean of Keffer Memorial Chapel at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. He returned to The General Seminary in 1987 as Director of the Chapel and Teaching Fellow, and joined the Faculty in 1989 to teach homiletics and liturgics. He was ordained as a deacon and then priest in the Episcopal Church in 1988 by New Jersey Bishop Mellick Belshaw. He received a Th.D. degree from General Seminary in Liturgics in 1993, where he became the Trinity Church Professor of Liturgics and Preaching. While at General, he served in a variety of parish settings in the metropolitan New York area. He has also taught at Yale, Drew, and Wilfrid Laurier universities.

Prior to becoming bishop, Alexander had moved to the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee where he served as the Norma and Olin Mills Professor of Divinity. He was also Priest-in-Charge at St. Agnes' Church in Cowan, Tennessee.

In January 2006, Bishop Alexander was nominated for the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, in which election he was defeated by the current Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts-Schori.

On February 8, 2011, Alexander announced that he would step down as Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta in the fall of 2012 after the election of his successor. He has accepted a post as professor of liturgics at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Alexander will continue as chancellor of the University of the South, a position he has held since 2009, through the October 2012 meeting of the board of trustees. [1]


J. Neil Alexander was the 968th bishop consecrated in the Episcopal Church.


Bishop Alexander is the author and editor of a number of publications in the fields of liturgics, homiletics, sacramental theology, and pastoral practice, including a number of his sermons.

  • This Far by Grace: A Bishop's Journey Through Questions of Homosexuality, Cowley Publications, 2003
  • With Ever Joyful Hearts: Essays on Liturgy and Music Honoring Marion J. Hatchett, Church Publishing, 1999
  • Waiting for the Coming: The Liturgical Meaning of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, Pastoral Press, 1993
  • Time and Community: Studies in Liturgical History and Theology, Pastoral Press, 1990

See Also...[edit]

Episcopal Church (USA) titles
Preceded by
Frank K. Allan
9th Bishop of Atlanta
July 7, 2001 – Present
Succeeded by
Robert C. Wright


  • Bishop's Page, Diocese of Atlanta website.
  • The Episcopal Church Annual. Morehouse Publishing: New York, NY (2005).