August 30: +Donald James Davis (2007)

Donald J. Davis is one of the eight clergy associated with Epiphany that became a bishop. Davis was born in 1929 in Newcastle, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Westminster College (1949) and Princeton Seminary (1952). He was ordained deacon and priest in 1955 by Bishop Angus Dun at Washington Cathedral. The first years of Davis’ ministry were spent as an assistant at the Church of the Epiphany. In 1957, Davis became the first rector of St. Christopher’s in Carmel, Indiana. This was followed by postings at Trinity, Toledo, Ohio and Trinity, Bloomington, Indiana. At the latter, Davis was also a chaplain at Indiana University. In 1973, Davis was elected bishop coadjutor of Northwestern Pennsylvania. A year later, he succeeded William Crittenden as the sixth bishop of that diocese.

During his episcopate, Davis chaired a number of positions in the House of Bishops and traveled to many developing countries while serving on the executive council of the Episcopal Church. He served on the Standing Committee on Church Music that authorized the current hymnal, known as The Hymnal 1982. Davis’ most historic act came on January 1, 1977 when he ordained Jacqueline Means as the first woman priest in the Episcopal Church under a new canon passed by General Convention the previous September. The ordination took place at All Saints Church in Indianapolis. Davis was substituting at the last minute for Bishop John Craine who was hospitalized. Both men had been among the 67 bishops who sponsored the resolution to allow women to be ordained.

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