Rt. Rev. John Shelby "Jack" Spong | 1931-2021
The Right Reverend John Shelby Spong's funeral service will be held Thursday, September 30th at 2:00 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, VA (an additional funeral service will be held at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, NJ - see details below).

Clergy who would like to be involved in the entrance procession should arrive no later than 1:30 p.m. and vest (white stoles) in Scott Hall (St. Paul's parish hall). Clergy who plan to be involved in the procession must RSVP to cdupree@stpaulsrva.org by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 28th.
The funeral service will be live-streamed on the St. Paul’s website HERE and on our Facebook page HERE. You can also find a direct link to the live stream feed on YouTube HERE.
Out of an abundance of caution and care for one another, masks will be required, regardless of vaccination status. Due to our distancing requirements, seating is limited. Overflow seating will be available in Scott Hall. If you are unvaccinated, feeling unwell or exhibiting any cold, allergy or flu-like symptoms please watch the live stream from home.

We encourage you to arrive early to park, as there is major construction happening in the area and lane closures are likely. There is parking in the church parking garage off of 8th Street, as well as additional garage and metered street parking on the surrounding streets.

You can read Bishop Spong’s obituary below. Memorial donations may be sent to the John Shelby Spong Lectureship at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond (815 East Grace Street, Richmond, VA 23219 or www.stpaulsrva.org/give).
Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong

One of America’s best-known spokespersons for an open, scholarly and inclusive Christianity, the Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, died Sunday, September 12, 2021, at his home in Richmond, VA. He was 90 years old.

Bishop Spong was ordained to the priesthood in 1955 and served for 20 years as a priest in Episcopal churches in North Carolina (St. Joseph’s, Durham, and Calvary Parish, Tarboro) and in Virginia (St. John’s, Lynchburg and St. Paul’s, Richmond). In 1976 he was elected VIII Bishop of Newark where he served for 24 years.

A deeply committed Christian, he insisted that he must also speak as an informed citizen of the 21st century. He studied at major centers of Christian scholarship including Union Theological Seminary in New York, Yale Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School and the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh. He was named the Quatercentenary Scholar at Cambridge University (Emmanuel College) in 1992 and the William Belden Noble Lecturer at Harvard University in 2000. He taught at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA; Drew University, Madison, NJ; Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA; The Pacific School of Religion Berkeley, CA; the University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA; and at Trinity College at the University of Toronto.

Bishop Spong was one of Desmond Tutu’s co-consecrators in 1976. He ordained to the priesthood the first English woman, the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Canham, long before the Church of England was willing to ordain women. On December 16, 1989, he ordained to the priesthood the first openly gay man, living in a publicly acknowledged committed relationship. That ordination led to the church’s willingness to bless committed gay unions.

While serving at St. Paul’s Church in Richmond, VA, Spong, together with Rabbi Jack Daniel Spiro and the University of Richmond’s Department of Religion Chair, Dr. Frank Eakin, led a citywide Jewish-Christian dialogue.

Well-known in radio and television circles, Bishop Spong appeared on such diverse programs as Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, The O’Reilly Factor with Bill O’Reilly, Late Night with Tom Snyder, Good Morning America with Charles Gibson, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Phil Donahue Show and NPR radio with both Diane Rehm and Terry Gross. He was featured on CBS’s Sixty Minutes with Leslie Stahl. He is the author of 26 books, which have sold over 2,000,000 copies. They have been translated into multiple languages. His articles have been published in The New York Times, the Washington Post, The Times of London and others.

He is survived by his wife Christine Mary Spong, who also served as his editor; their five children, Ellen Elizabeth Spong (Augustus Charles Epps, Jr.), Mary Katharine Spong (John Baldwin Catlett, Jr.), Jaquelin Ketner Spong, Brian Yancy Barney (Julieann), and Rachel Elizabeth Carter. M.D. (Scott); and their six grandchildren, Katharine Shelby Catlett, M.D., John Baldwin Catlett, III, John Lanier Hylton, Lydia Ann Hylton, Colin David Barney, and Katherine Barney.
Separate funeral services will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, VA and at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Morristown, NJ.

The service at St. Paul’s, Richmond will be held on September 30, 2021, at 2:00 pm. Masks will be required for in-person attendance. This service will also be live-streamed at www.stpaulsrva.org.

The service at St. Peter’s, Morristown will be held on October 15, 2021, at 11:00 am. This service will also be live-streamed at www.stpetersmorristown.org.

Memorial donations may be sent to the John Shelby Spong Lectureship at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond (815 East Grace Street, Richmond, VA 23219 or www.stpaulsrva.org/give).