1986 - 1999
1972 - 1985
1960 - 1972
1942 - 1959
1929 - 1942
George Coolidge Hunting
1914 - 1924
Henry D. Robinson
1908 - 1913
Bishop of Nevada and Utah
1888 - 1903
Bishop of Nevada & Arizona
1869 - 1874
1860 - 1869
The boundaries of the Diocese of Nevada roughly
coincide with those of the State, but this has not always been so.
Initially, Nevada was part of a huge area of the country called the
Northwest. The first of Nevada’s ten missionary bishops was
The Rt. Rev. Joseph Talbot whose tenure began in 1860, predating
President Buchanan’s signature of the 1861 Act of Congress
which organized the Territory of Nevada. In 1864, as a means of stemming
the flow of mineral wealth to the coffers of the confederacy, Nevada
was granted statehood.
During these early years, Nevada was frequently
combined administratively by the Episcopal Church in the same missionary
district as Utah. In 1929, during the tenure of Bishop Thomas Jenkins,
Nevada became a separate missionary district. In 1940, Bishop Jenkins
summarized those earliest days when he wrote:
|. . . the northern California
gold rush formed a center of
population in the vicinity of Virginia City. Beginning in
the middle 1850’s, hundreds of emigrants, traveling
principally from New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania,
on their way to the California gold districts settled in what
later became Nevada. Many were members of the
Protestant Episcopal Church.
First Episcopal Church in Nevada
In 1862, St. Paul’s, the first Episcopal
Church in Nevada, was built in Virginia City at a cost of $30,000
and was consecrated on October 11, 1863, by Bishop Talbot. The first
Sunday School was started May 11, 1862, under the direction of Mrs.
Whitaker, the wife of The Reverend Ozi William Whitaker. At its peak,
the Sunday School welcomed 400 children on its rolls. Following the
retirement of Bishop Talbot in 1869, Ozie Whitaker became the first
Bishop of the recently organized Nevada territory. His successors
include Henry D. Robinson, 1908-1913, George C. Hunting, 1914-1924
(for whom Hunting Lodge at Camp Galilee is named), Thomas Jenkins
(1929-1942), William Lewis, 1942-1959 and William Wright, 1960-1972.
Expansion and Mission
During the rest of the 19th century and into
the early years of the 20th, the Episcopal Church expanded throughout
Nevada. The planting of new congregations and the construction of
new church buildings was tied principally to the expansion of the
mining industry and the resulting growth of population centers. Forty-five
missions and parishes were founded and occasional services were held
in dozens of other tiny communities. Of the latter, most are now
ghost towns; of many, no trace remains.
In Nevada, as in most other Episcopal mission
fields during the 19th century, women missionaries and deaconesses
either began the mission work alone or shared in it extensively.
This was especially true of parishes
among the Paiute people of Pyramid Lake, north of Reno, during the
The Paiutes fought fiercely against invasion
and dispossession, a losing struggle culminating in the Paiute War
fought sporadically throughout the 1860s. As a result of the Grant
Peace Policy which assigned tribes to different churches for education
and (it was hoped) pacification, the Pyramid Lake Paiutes were assigned
to the Episcopalians in the 1870s. At the turn of the 20th century,
nearly all were baptized, thus becoming members of the Episcopal
In 1992, St. Mary’s Church, Nixon, celebrated
its centennial with many members returning and participating. Currently,
there is a small but active congregation; even those who are not
active routinely turn to the church for pastoral care at times of
need or celebration. Although mission work was begun long ago on
reservations at Moapa, northeast of Las Vegas, and at Fort McDermitt
near the Oregon border, no Episcopal presence remains and no other
formal outreach to Nevada Native Americans has taken root.
Lake Tahoe and Camp Galilee
Lewis, who presided over the Diocese in the 1940's, is especially
remembered for the acquisition of property on the shores of Lake
Tahoe in a beautiful rustic pine-covered setting which became known
as Camp Galilee. For over fifty years, it has been important to the
diocese as a summer camp and conference center. Renovations over
the last few years have allowed the camp to be used for winter meetings
and conferences as well. While still in need of additional refurbishing
and development, the camp holds a special place in the hearts of
many Episcopalians, both Nevadans and those from other states who
have experienced its beauty and serenity.
Diocesan Status/First Diocesan Bishop
In 1971, Nevada achieved separate diocesan status.
The Rt. Rev. Wesley Frensdorff was elected the first diocesan bishop
and was consecrated in 1972 in Las Vegas at the Sahara Hotel & Casino.
During his tenure, Bishop Frensdorff introduced the concept of Total
Ministry – “the ministry of all the baptized” – the
responsibility of every Christian to live out his or her baptismal
covenant in ministry to others.
length and breadth of the Diocese of Nevada, the vast distances between
parishes, and economic issues have been important factors in stimulating
and supporting the development of this concept. His commitment to Total
Ministry continues to bear fruit in our Diocese and other Dioceses
around the world.
Canon Jim McGrew and his wife Pat
became close friends of Bishop Frensdorff and his wife, Dee. Jim
(a longtime delegate to General Convention from our Diocese and Secretary
of Province VIII), continues to serve in the Reno office of the Diocese
located at St. Stephens.
Bishop Stewart Zabriskie, the second diocesan
bishop for the Diocese of Nevada, was elected in 1987. He devotedly
supported Total Ministry development throughout his leadership in
our Diocese and by taking the message of its potential to other Dioceses
around the country and to Australia.
The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
October, 2000, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected
Bishop of the Diocese of Nevada and was consecrated in 2001. Bishop
Katharine brought a new energy and vitality to the Diocese. Among
her many accomplishments administratively was her recommendation
that the Standing Committee and the Diocesan Council be separated
to enable each body to better conduct its business and unique responsibilities.
This has worked to everyone’s benefit. Bishop Katharine’s
many national and international contacts brought a sense of the larger
body of the Church to this diocese as well as resources, grant opportunities
and programs previously unknown. Perhaps Bishop Katharine’s
greatest gift to this diocese was her ability to listen and then
offer empowerment and support of each baptized person to find his
or her ministry and pursue it – joyfully, energetically, and,
above all else, spiritually – an updating and uplifting of
the concept of Total Ministry that was begun decades earlier in the
Diocese of Nevada.
In June, 2006, Bishop Katharine
was elected as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United
States at the General Convention. While Nevada’s Episcopalians
certainly celebrated the joy of this election for the national church,
the Diocese began the discernment process for a
new Bishop, and elected ______ at the Annual Convention, Christ Church,
Las Vegas, October 12-14, 2007