Episcopal Bishops of Arkansas Correspondence

MC 1735

Special Collections Department
University of Arkansas Libraries

365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701-4002
Phone: 479-575-8444
Email: specoll@uark.edu

Machine-readable finding aid encoded in EAD by Krista Jones, 2010.

Finding aid is written in English.

Table of Contents

Descriptive Summary

Episcopal Church. Diocese of Arkansas
Episcopal Bishops of Arkansas Correspondence
Inclusive Dates
MC 1735
.25 linear ft. (1 box)
Materials are in English.
Special Collections Department, University of Arkansas Libraries

Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email specoll@uark.edu at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Acquisition Information

The Episcopal Bishops of Arkansas Correspondence was purchased by the Special Collections Department, University of Arkansas Libraries, in 2005

Processing Information

Processed by Emily Rogers; completed in September 2008

Preferred Form of Citation

Episcopal Bishops of Arkansas Correspondence (MC 1735), Special Collections Department, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville.

See Special Collections Citation Guide for more detailed information on how to cite specific documents from the collection.

Historical Note

The Episcopal Church sent its first missionary bishop to Arkansas in 1838. Reverend Leonidas Polk was responsible for spreading Episcopalianism not only throughout Arkansas, but also through Indian Territory, Mississippi, Louisiana, and the Republic of Texas. During his time as Bishop, Reverend Polk was successful in establishing the first Episcopal Church congregation in the home of prominent Arkansas senator Chester Ashley.

After Reverend Polk left Arkansas, its new missionary bishop Reverend James Harvey Otey continued to help increase the number of Episcopalians. During his time as bishop, the first Episcopalian church in Arkansas was completed in Pine Bluff in 1842. In addition, an Episcopalian congregation was formed in Fayetteville in 1841.

During the Civil War, the Arkansas Episcopal Church was led by missionary Bishop Henry C. Lay. Because of the war, the Episcopal Church suffered greatly. Many parishes were broken up and several priests left Arkansas. Reverend Lay worked to restore the Church with little success. Under his leadership however, the St. John's Associate Mission School was established near Fayetteville.

After Reverend Lay's departure, missionary Bishop Henry Niles Pierce led Arkansas's Episcopal Church. With his guidance, the Episcopal Church became stronger than it had ever been. In his nearly thirty years of leadership, the diocese became self-supporting and church membership grew from 605 members to 3,000 members. Reverend Pierce also helped to establish the Arkansas Churchman, a missionary newsletter. His greatest accomplishment as missionary bishop was the Trinity Cathedral in Little Rock, which was finished in 1892.

After Reverend Pierce's death in 1899, Reverend William Montgomery Brown took over as bishop. Reverend Brown was not nearly as successful as the previous bishop in leading the church. Under Reverend Brown's leadership, the Episcopal Church suffered worse financially than it did during the Civil War. Reverend Brown hurt the church further with the implementation of the Arkansans Plan. Meant to reach out to the African American community, it only led to a split in the Episcopal Church in Arkansas. After declaring that he was a Darwinist and a Marxist in his book Communism and Christianism, Reverend Brown was excommunicated from the Episcopal Church on the grounds of heresy.

Bishop James Rideout Winchester succeeded Brown. During World War I and the depression of the 19030s, the Episcopal Church faced financial difficulty. Winchester had troubles paying priests, keeping congregations open, and was forced to discontinue the diocesan newspaper the Arkansas Churchman. He retired in 1931. Throughout his tenure as Bishop, Winchester received help from Right Reverend Edwin Warren Saphore, suffragan bishop for the diocese, and Right Reverend Edward Thomas Demby, the second African American bishop in the American Episcopal Church who served as suffragan bishop for African American communities.

In 1939 Reverend R. Bland Mitchell was elected bishop and worked to reverse declining membership, and financial troubles. In addition, Bishop Mitchell openly supported the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Mitchell retired in 1956, and Right Reverend Robert R. Brown was his successor. Brown established St. Martin’s Chapel and student center at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and started missions across Arkansas supporting civil rights issues.

Right Reverend Christoph Keller became the tenth bishop and led the diocese through a revision of the Book of Common Prayer, lay ministry, and the role of women in the church. He also oversaw the establishment of Sewanee Theological Education Program and the Good Shepard Ecumenical Retirement Center in Little Rock.

Currently, the Episcopal Church continues to grow and play an important role in Arkansas.

Scope and Content Note

Materials include correspondence and other materials concerning Bishop Henry Niles Pierce, Bishop George Washington Freeman, Bishop Henry Champlin Lay, Bishop William Montgomery Brown, Bishop James Rideout Winchester, Bishop Edward Warren Saphore, Bishop Edward Thomas Demby, Bishop R. Bland Mitchell, Bishop Raymond Richard Brown, and Bishop Christoph Keller Jr.

Arrangement of the Papers

Materials are arranged in chronologically.

Detailed Description of the Collection

The following contains a detailed list of the materials in the collection

Box 1

Box 1 Folder 1

Episcopal Bishops of Arkansas Correspondence, 1858-1968


University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Ave.
Fayetteville, AR 72701-4002
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