Robert R. Spears Jr.

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Robert Rae "Bob" Spears Jr. (June 1918 – March 18, 2008) was a prominent American Christian clergyman, and the former Episcopal Bishop of Rochester, New York, for which he served from 1970 to 1984. He was best known for his liberal views. Spears was an important leader in the Episcopal Church's progressive wing. He was in favor of the decision to ordain women. He opposed the Vietnam War, and spoke out against violence during the Attica Prison riot. He was also an early proponent of involvement in the Episcopal Church by its gay and lesbian members.

Childhood, education and calling[edit]

Spears graduated from Hobart College in Upstate New York[1] in 1940.[2] He answered the call to holy orders in the Episcopal Church. He graduated from The General Theological Seminary in New York City[1] in 1943.[2]

He was ordained a deacon and priest, and served as a curate.

Spears was married to his wife Charlotte for decades, and they had three children and three grandchildren.[1][2]

Bishop of Rochester[edit]

In 1970, Spears was elected bishop coadjutor of Rochester.[1] He was consecrated under apostolic succession by the Presiding Bishop [3]

Spears served from 1970 to 1984 as the sixth Diocesan bishop of Rochester.[1][2][4] He supported female ordination in the 1970s, then a controversial subject.[1][2][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Bishop Robert R. Spears Jr., 89, dies", Democrat and Chronicle, found at Democrat and Chronicle Obituary. Accessed March 30, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e Hobart and William Smith Colleges web site. Accessed March 30, 2008.
  3. ^ See List of Presiding Bishops in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America
  4. ^ Rochester Episcopal Diocese about web page. Accessed March 30, 2008.
  5. ^ Mary S. Donovan, "Women as Priests and Bishops," UALR History Seminar, November 7, 1989; Revised February 13, 1992; July 20, 1992, found at Women as Priests and Bishops. Accessed March 30, 2008.

External links[edit]

Episcopal Church (USA) titles
Preceded by
George W. Barrett
5th Bishop of Rochester
Succeeded by
William G. Burrill