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Episcopal Church. Diocese of Southwestern Virginia


Historical Note

The Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia was originally formed from the Diocese of Virginia, which was organized in 1795 and included the area that is now the states of Virginia and West Virginia. West Virginia achieved its statehood in 1863, and split from the Diocese in 1877. In 1892 the Diocese of Southern Virginia was formed, and in 1919 the western part of the diocese split off to form the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia. Robert Carter Jett, D.D., of the Virginia Episcopal School, was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese in March 1920. He selected Roanoke as the headquarters, and St. John's for his parish church. Bishop Jett established a diocesan newsletter, encouraged interdenominational cooperation among the Protestant sects, and oversaw a program of church construction and the growth of mission schools. In 1938 Bishop Jett retired and Henry Disbrow Phillips assumed the duties of Bishop of the Diocese. Under Phillips' leadership, the Diocese continued to expand in parishioners and influence, most notably in the growth in the Diocese's function in education. William Henry Marmion became the third Bishop of Southwestern Virginia in May 1954, and led the Diocese through an era of social upheaval in the 1960s. Bishop Marmion was strongly against racial segregation, and was confronted with the problem of challenging the long-held beliefs of many of his parishioners while integrating blacks into the church at the same time. The 1960s and 1970s also saw women pushing for a higher status in society, and the Diocese saw women increasingly become part of the church leadership as lay readers, deacons, and priests. Bishop Marmion also guided his parish into accepting the revisions of the Book of Common Prayer. Bishop Marmion retired in 1979, and Bishop Heath Light assumed leadership that same year.

The Standing Committee of the diocese meets under the authority of the Canons of General Convention and the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia. The Standing Committee is primarily concerned with issues of ordination, clergy discipline, and real property.

See Hills of the Lord: the Background of the Episcopal Church in Southwestern Virginia, 1738-1938 by Katherine L. Brown (1979) or for more information on the early history of the Diocese.

Information on individual churches in the diocese, including those in the collection, can be found through the diocese website:

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia Records II

Identifier: Ms-2011-018

The collection includes accounting records, attendance records, documents from the diocese, bills, correspondence, and service programs for five churches and one diocese organization.

Dates: 1913-1967, n.d.

Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia Records

Identifier: Ms-1985-004

The Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia Records consist of the Diocese's administrative records, including incoming (often from parishioners) and outgoing correspondence, with a scattering of newspaper clippings, photographs, building plans and surveys, pamphlets, and meeting minutes, from the central administrative office in Roanoke and the churches within the Diocese.

Dates: 1866 - 2004; Majority of material found within ( 1919-1969)

Reverend Baldwin Lloyd Collection

Identifier: Ms-2022-018
Abstract This collection contains personal papers from Reverend Baldwin Lloyd, such as correspondence, certificates, research materials, and photogrpahs. It also includes records of his work with the Monacan Indian Nation through St. Paul's Church at Bear Mountain, his involvement with the Appalachian People's Service Organization, and community projects such as the Village Center in Blacksburg, VA. The bulk of the materials in the collection are undated, but would have likely been created between...
Dates: c.1960s-2010; Majority of material found within 1960 - 1990