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The Right Reverend Bennett Jones Sims (August 9, 1920 - July 17, 2006) was the sixth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, consecrated in 1972. He retired in 1983.


Son of Lewis Raymond and Sarah Cosette Sims, Bennett J. Sims was born in Greenfield, Massachusettsmarker. In 1943, he earned a B.A. from Baker University. On September 24 of that year, he married Beatrice Wimberly.

He then attended Virginia Theological Seminarymarker, earning his Master of Divinity in 1948. In June of that year, he was ordained as deacon and in April 1950 he was ordained a priest. Both times he was ordained by The Rt. Rev Noble Powell, bishop of Maryland. Sims became Curate at Church of the Redeemer, Baltimore, Marylandmarker, in 1949 and two years later was named its rector, serving until 1962. That year he served as priest-in-charge at St. Alban's Church in Tokyo, Japanmarker.

From 1963 to 1964, he served as Rector of Christ Church in Corning, New Yorkmarker, participation in the 1963 March on Washington led by the Rev.. Martin Luther King, Jr. From 1964 to 1965 he was a Harvard fellow. He returned to VTS, receiving a Doctorate in Divinity in 1966. From 1966 to 1972 he was director of the Continuing Education Department at Virginia Seminary, also serving, in 1969, as priest-in-charge at St. Alban's Church in Tokyo, Japanmarker, and studied systematic theology at The Catholic University of Americamarker, Washington, D.C.marker (1969-1971).

In 1972, Sims was elected bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta. During his episcopacy, he was in strong opposition to the rising divorce rate, and spoke about his preference for the integrity of marriage vows. Among the issues receiving his support and leadership were racial integration of the public schools, revision of the Episcopal prayer book, the ordination of women, and, ultimately, the acceptance of homosexuals in the church.

Upon retirement from the Diocese of Atlanta, he founded the Institute for Servant Leadership at Emory University in 1983. From 1980 to 1988, Sims held a visiting professorship at Candler School of Theology at Emory Universitymarker in Atlanta.

Despite having been adamantly against divorce, Bishop Sims married a second time on August 25, 1988, to Mary Page Welborn. In open dialogue with the clergy of the Diocese, Sims expressed his experience of forgiveness, healing and grace shown to him. Bishop Sims and his wife retired to Hendersonville, North Carolinamarker. He died at his home July 17, 2006.


Bennett Sims was the 676th bishop consecrated in the Episcopal Church.

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