Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem
|Diocese of Bethlehem|
Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
|Ecclesiastical province||III (Middle Atlantic)|
|Cathedral||Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem|
|Bishop||Sean W. Rowe (Provisional)|
Location of the Diocese of Bethlehem
The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem covers fourteen counties in Pennsylvania to the north and west of Philadelphia. Following the retirement of Paul Marshall on December 31, 2013, the diocese's ecclesiastical authority rested in its Standing Committee. A special convention took place on March 1, 2014, electing Sean Rowe, Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, as Provisional Bishop. The cathedral is the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The pro-Cathedral is St. Stephen's, Wilkes-Barre.
The first Anglican services in the area comprising the Diocese of Bethlehem were held in Perkiomen in 1700. Settlers of English and Welsh ancestry were visited there by Evan Evans, rector of Philadelphia's Christ Church. Two years later, this group formed the parish of St. James. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was formed in London in 1701, with the initial goal of funding missionary clergy in America. Until the American Revolution brought an end the Society's activities in the United States, it provided support to the few itinerant Anglican clergy in rural Pennsylvania.
In early Pennsylvania settlements, missionaries of the Church of Sweden and the Church of England had a cooperative relationship, and Anglicans often worshipped with the small Swedish congregations. As Sweden decreased support for these congregations, some were taken over by Anglican clergy. In 1753, a former Swedish church near Hopewell Furnace became St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church. St. Gabriel's later established a missionary parish in Reading, which at first met in members' homes. This parish, St. Mary's, later became Christ Church parish.
In 1785, William White convened a meeting at Christ Church in Philadelphia for the purpose of organizing the Episcopal Church in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The conference included laymen as well as clergy, an arrangement which had no precedent in England. St. Mary's in Reading, St. Gabriel's in Morlatton (now Douglassville) and St. James in Perkiomen (now Collegeville) were among the fifteen parishes represented at the conference. Plans were made for the first official convention of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and delegates were chosen to attend the first General Convention for the national Episcopal Church, held later that year at the same location. The Diocese of Pennsylvania received its first bishop in 1787 when William White was consecrated bishop at Lambeth Chapel.
In 1871 the area now comprising both Central Pennsylvania and Bethlehem became a new diocese. The original name was the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, and the cathedral was in Reading. In 1904 the western part of the diocese was separated to form the Diocese of Harrisburg. This left the eastern part of the diocese, now based in Bethlehem, covering a territory that "the name lost much of its significance." At the 1909 diocesan convention a resolution was passed that changed the name to Diocese of Bethlehem, and it took effect May 26, 1909. In the 1970s the name of Central Pennsylvania was re-adopted by the former Diocese of Harrisburg.
List of bishops
|Bishops of Central Pennsylvania|
|1871||1884?||Mark Antony De Wolfe Howe|
|1884||1897?||Nelson Somerville Rulison|
|1898||1909||Ethelbert Talbot||Previously Missionary Bishop of Wyoming and Idaho; became Bishop of Bethlehem.|
|Bishops of Bethlehem|
|1909||1927||Ethelbert Talbot||Previously Bishop of Central Pennsylvania; Presiding Bishop (as senior bishop) 1924–1926.|
|1927||1953?||Frank W. Sterrett||Frank William Sterret; coadjutor bishop since 1923.|
|1953||1971||Frederick J. Warnecke||Frederick John "Fred" Warnecke (died February 23, 1977, Boca Raton, FL, aged 70)|
|1970||1982?||Lloyd E. Gressle||Lloyd Edward Gressle (June 13, 1918, Cleveland, OH – December 7, 1999, East Quogue, NY)|
|1982||1995||Mark Dyer||James J. Mark Dyer (born June 7, 1930, Manchester, NH)|
|1996||2013||Paul V. Marshall||Paul Victor Marshall, retired December 31, 2013|
|2014||Present||Sean W. Rowe||Provisional Bishop|
- The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem Team Directory
- Twelves, J. Wesley (1969). A History of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. pp. 2–7.
- Benton, A.A. (1884). The Church Cyclopedia. Philadelphia: L.R. Hamersly.
- Walker, Joseph E. (1966). Hopewell Village: A Social and Economic History of an Iron-making Community. p. 366.
- Hodges, George (1906). Three Hundred Years of the Episcopal Church in America. Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs & Co. p. 87.
- Journal of the Proceedings of the Thirty-Eighth Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Diocese of Central Pennsylvania Wilkes-Barr, Pa; The E.S. Yordly Co. title page, p.50.
- Dyer resumé
- Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem official website
- Journal of the Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Diocese of Central Pennsylvania from 1871-1909
- Journal of the Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Bethlehem