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Crest of Diocese of New York
The Episcopal Diocese of New York is a diocese of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, encompassing the boroughs of Manhattanmarker, the Bronxmarker, and Staten Islandmarker in New York Citymarker, and the New York statemarker counties of Westchestermarker, Rocklandmarker, Dutchessmarker, Orangemarker, Putnammarker, Sullivanmarker, and Ulstermarker.

Established in 1787 after the success of the American Revolution necessitated a replacement in the United States for the Church of England and its requirement to recognize the British monarch as the head of the church, it is one of the nine original dioceses of the Episcopal Church. It is one of ten dioceses, plus the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, that make up Province 2.

The diocesan offices are located in Manhattan near the Cathedral of Saint John the Divinemarker on Amsterdam Avenue. The Diocesan bishop is the Right Reverend Mark S. Sisk, 15th Bishop of New York, assisted by the Right Reverend Catherine S. Roskam, Bishop Suffragan, the Right Reverend E. Don Taylor, Vicar Bishop for New York City, and the Very Reverend James A. Kowalski, dean of the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divinemarker.


Location of the Diocese of New York
The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

Early years

Anglicanism in New York can be traced to the acquisition of the territory from the Dutch in the latter part of the 17th century. In 1664, Charles II granted title to New Netherland to his brother, the Duke of York, the future James II. British rule over New York was firmly established by 1674. Initially, as a royal province under the direct control of the Roman Catholic James II, little was done to promote the Church of England in New York. In 1683, the New York Charter of Liberties and Privileges guaranteed religious tolerance and liberty. After the Glorious Revolution, the British monarchy, especially William III and Anne actively promoted the growth of the Church of England within the province. In 1693. the Church of England became the established church of New York (although certain accommodations were made for the Dutch Reformed Church).

Between 1693 and 1694 Trinity Churchmarker in lower Manhattan and St. Peter’s Church, Westchester in what is today the Bronxmarker, were established. With royal patronage and the assistance of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), the church grew in the province through to the period of the American Revolution. During this time, the parishes in New York were under the direction of the Bishop of London. (Bonomi, 1998)

As the church grew in New York, and indeed through the American colonies, the Church of England began to see the need to establish an episcopate in the Americas. This plan caused fear among a number of colonists and is said to have contributed to the American Revolution. (Bonomi, 1998) The Church's involvement in the creation of King's College (now Columbia University) and its large endowment far surpassing all other colonial colleges of the period, added to the fear of creating an episcopacy and of Crown influence in America through the college. During the Revolution, the church was seen by many revolutionaries as harboring loyalties to the British Empire. It has been reported that as many as 90 percent of New York’s Church of England clergy remained loyal to the Crown during the Revolution. (McConnell 2003) After the Revolution, the church was disestablished in New York (and the other colonies) and a number of prominent clergymen were imprisoned, including Samuel Seabury, the rector of St. Peter’s, Westchester, later the first Bishop of Connecticut.

In 1787, after an act was passed in Parliament whereby the English bishops were empowered to confer the episcopate upon men who were not subject to the British Crown, Samuel Provoost was consecrated as the first bishop of New York by John Moore, the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Markam, the Archbishop of York, and Charles Moss, Bishop of Bath and Wells. In 1789, the Episcopal Church was formally separated from the Church of England so that clergy would not be required to accept the supremacy of the Crown. (McConnell 2003)

Bishop Provoost

The Most Reverend Samuel Provoost, I Bishop of New York and Third Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

The selection of Provoost served to mollify the anti-Anglican sentiments, which rose during the Revolution. In his Addresses on the History of the United States Senate, Senator Robert Byrd noted that in the years before the Revolution, Provoost “was a passionate Whig, and his sympathy for the colonies against English rule did not sit well with his wealthy loyalist congregation. Before long, his patriotism cost him his parish. During the Revolution, Provoost . . . narrowly escaped capture and death at the hands of the British.” His Revolutionary credentials established, the first U.S. Senate, sitting in New York, chose Provoost as its first Chaplain in 1789. After the inauguration of George Washington as the first President of the United States, the new President together with the members of Congress proceeded to St. Paul's Chapel, where Provoost led a prayer for the new government.

During his tenure, the Diocese devoted considerable effort and money to the expansion of the faith in other parts of New York, most notably in the area which now comprises the Episcopal Diocese of Albany. From 1792 to 1795, Provoost served as the 3rd Presiding Bishop of the church.

Oxford Movement 1830s - 1840s

In the 1830s and 1840s, the Oxford Movement caused controversies and divisions within the diocese, as it did elsewhere within the church and the broader Anglican community. In New York, these divisions crystallized over a dispute over the ordination of Arthur Carey. Carey, a graduate of the General Theological Seminarymarker, was greatly influenced by the Tracts for the Times, and as his ordination approached he was opposed by a number of clergy and laity., Bishop Benjamin Onderdonk and other presbyters conducted an examination of Carey, which ultimately found him fit for ordination, which was celebrated in 1843. The dispute did not end there, and a number of letters were published accusing Carey and ultimately Onderdonk of being overly sympathetic to Roman Catholicism. This controversy spread beyond the diocese and at least one other diocese adopted a resolution condemning Onderdonk.

As this controversy continued, charges were presented to the House of Bishops alleging that Bishop Onderdonk had committed an “immoral act” with a Mrs. Butler and other women (charges of intoxication were also mentioned, but downplayed). After a trial, the House of Bishops suspended Onderdonk. Whether or not this was the result of the dispute over the issues raised by the Carey affair was hotly debated at the time, in a series of tracts and published letters of the parties involved. While the answer to this may be unknowable, William Manross notes in A History of the American Episcopal Church (1935) that the verdict against Onderdonk reflects "the bitter party feeling which prevailed at the time, especially as the voting throughout the trial was pretty much along party lines, all of the evangelicals voting to condemn Bishop Onderdonk and most, though not all, of the High Churchmen voting to acquit him."

Bishops of New York

These are the bishops who have served the Diocese of New York:,

Educational and other institutions

Spiritual Communities

There are a number of Spiritual Communities and Religious Orders active within the Diocese. Among these are:


The 2003 edition of the Episcopal Church Annual lists seven Episcopal schools in New York:
  • Children's Garden at The General Theological Seminary, 175 Ninth Avenue, New York
  • St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's School, 619 114th Street, New York
  • The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York
  • The Episcopal School in the City of New York, 35 East 69th Street, New York
  • The Melrose School, 120 Federal Hill Road, Brewster, New York
  • Trinity-Pawling School, 700 Route 22, Pawling, New York

See also


  1. New York to Pennsylvania 1664-1744 by Sanderson Beck
  2. History of the U.S.A.: New York
  3. Charter of Liberty and Privileges, 1683
  4. Trinity Church history
  5. Senate history: Senate chaplain
  6. Diocese of Albany history
  7. Episcopal Church Office of Liturgy and Music: Arthur Carey
  8. Project Canterbury, The Ordination of Mr. Arthur Carey
  9. A letter to a Parishioner relative to the Recent Ordination of Mr. Arthur Carey
  10. Project Canterbury: The Novelties which Disturb Our Peace
  11. Project Canterbury: Statement of Bishop Meade
  12. Episcopal Church Office of Liturgy and Music: Benjamin Tredwell Onderdonk
  13. The Episcopal Church Annual. Morehouse Publishing: New York, NY (2005)
  14. Diocese of New York list of bishops

External links

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