Diocese of Mid-America
Reformed Episcopal Church

Diocese of Mid-America - A History

A History


I may make, now, a most earnest appeal to the clergy and laity to press forward in the great cause which we have espoused in the love and fear of God
— Bishop Samuel Fallows

Bishop Charles Edward Cheney Second Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church First Bishop of the Synod of Chicago

Bishop Charles Edward Cheney
Second Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church
First Bishop of the Synod of Chicago

Synod of Chicago

After the founding of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) on December 2, 1873, the Rev. Charles Edward Cheney, rector of Christ Church Chicago, IL, was elected and consecrated as the second Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church. The Synod of Chicago was officially formed in 1875 and Bishop Cheney served as its first Bishop. This Synod remained for over 120 years until 1995 when it voted to merge with the Missionary Diocese of North-America to form what is now known as the Diocese of Mid-America.

Special Jurisdiction Of North America

In 1984, Bishop Royal U. Grote, Jr. was elected as a Suffragan Bishop to The Most Rev. Leonard W. Riches in the New York and Philadelphia Synod (now known as the Diocese of the Northeast & Mid-Atlantic). During his tenure, Bishop Grote served as the President of the Board of National Church Extension which oversaw the promotion of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) domestically. With new parishes beginning to form and join the REC in California and with a firm conviction that the denomination needed to further its witness and growth west of the Mississippi River, the 46th General Council of the Reformed Episcopal Church (1990) voted to form what was called, “The Special Jurisdiction of North America” (SJNA). This jurisdiction comprised all churches that were not included in any other Synod of the REC. Bishop Grote was elected the Missionary Bishop of this new jurisdiction and relocated from New Providence, NJ to Houston, TX where he planted a parish (Church of the Holy Trinity) and a daycare school (Good Shepherd Daycare). The Jurisdiction quickly grew from its original six parishes and four missions in 1990 to a total of 33 parishes and missions by 1996. When the REC began to utilize the terminology of “Diocese” instead of “Synod”, the SJNA became known as the Missionary Diocese of North-America (MDNA).

The Diocese of Mid-America

In 1995, with the retirement of Bishop Franklin Sellers of the Synod of Chicago approaching, a request was made by that Synod to merge with the Missionary Diocese of North-America. This merger resulted in a new name for the territory known as the ‘Diocese of Mid-America’ (DMA) and Bishop Grote was elected the Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese. Bishop Grote served in this capacity from his initial call as Missionary Bishop in 1990 until his passing in November 2016. Upon Bishop Grote’s passing, Bishop Co-adjutor Ray Sutton assumed the office of Bishop Ordinary and continues to serve in this capacity today.

The growth and the geographical expanse of the Diocese covering 27 states called for additional Episcopal oversight. The 48th General Council of the REC, held in 1996, endorsed the election of the Rev. Daniel R. Morse as an assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Mid-America. Bishop Morse served faithfully in this capacity and was, eventually, elected Bishop Co-adjutor of the Diocese. In 2008, the REC restructured Diocesan boundary lines and formed a new Diocese known as the Diocese of the Central States. Many of the founding parishes of the new Diocese came from the Diocese of Mid-America. Bishop Morse was elected as the Bishop of the Diocese of the Central States and relocated to Tennessee to better serve that Diocese.

The Diocese of Mid-America also formed, out of its parishes, what was once known as the Diocese of the West. Bishop George Fincke was elected to serve as the Bishop of the Diocese. After suffering a stroke, the Diocese of the West returned to the oversight the of the Diocese of Mid-America until such a time as the Diocese could again be established. When the Diocese of the West from the Anglican Province of America (APA) affiliated with the Reformed Episcopal Church under Bishop Richard Boyce, the Diocese of the West was reestablished. More recently, when Bishop Mott and a portion of the Diocese of the West voted to affiliate with the Missionary Diocese of All-Saints, the remaining parishes in the Diocese of the West voted to remain with the Reformed Episcopal Church. The Convocation of the West was then formed under the oversight of the Diocese of Mid-America. Additionally, when Bishop Charles Dorrington, Ordinary of the Diocese of Western Canada & Alaska, retired from his episcopal oversight, said Diocese voted to join the Diocese of Mid-America as well.

Following the passing of Bishop Grote and the installation of Bishop Sutton as the Ordinary, an election for a suffragan bishop was held at the 2017 Diocesan Synod and the 55th General Council of the Reformed Episcopal Church. Thereat, the council unanimously approved the election of the Very Rev. Walter Banek. Bishop Banek now serves as suffragan bishop and continues to serve as the rector of Good Shepherd Reformed Episcopal Church in Tyler, TX.

Cranmer Theological House

In 1994, Bishop Grote and the Diocese of Mid-America founded Cranmer Theological House in Shreveport, LA. This seminary recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and has helped provide solid Biblical and Anglican teaching, ministry, and spiritual formation to many individuals and parishes.

Bishop Ray R. Sutton, who was originally the pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Tyler, TX when it became a founding member of the Diocese of Mid-America, had been serving as the President of Reformed Episcopal Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Discussions between Bishop Grote and Bishop Sutton concerning the need for strong Biblical and Anglican teaching, pastoral education, and spiritual formation in the Diocese of Mid-America led to the formation of the third Reformed Episcopal Seminary - Cranmer Theological House (CTH).

CTH was formed as the Diocesan seminary in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1994. The late Rev. Louis Tarsitano served as the first dean. In 1995, Bishop Sutton relocated from Philadelphia and became the Dean of Cranmer House from 1995 to 2002 when CTH relocated to Houston, TX and Bishop Sutton accepted a call as the Rector of Church of the Holy Communion in Dallas, TX. It was during Bishop Sutton’s tenure in Shreveport that he was elected and consecrated as Bishop in July, 1999.

Since 2002, under the direction of the now-retired Dean, The Very Rev. Curtis Crenshaw, and Bishop Sutton, Cranmer House has increased its witness and ministry in the Dallas & Houston areas. Additionally, external courses are being offered throughout the nation. For more information about Cranmer House, please visit www.cranmerhouse.org

a Diocese of Mission

The Diocese of Mid-America has never lost its heritage nor its purpose of mission. With its roots as a Missionary Diocese, the Diocese has continued to seek opportunities to provide tools and resources to help support the growth of Christ’s kingdom and ministry in the world through the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America. Most recently, Bishop Sutton presented the mission and ministry of REC100 that he and Bishop Grote developed for the support and growth of the Reformed Episcopal Church. Bishop Grote passed away before this ministry could begin, but REC100 is built upon the heart of mission that Bishop Grote always had and which helped form this very Diocese.

Bishop Ordinaries

& Missionary Bishops

Bishop Charles Edward Cheney
1875–1916
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Bishop Samuel Fallows
1916–1922
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Bishop Willard Brewing
(Acting Bishop in Charge under the Presiding Bishop)
1922–1929
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Bishop Robert L. Rudolph
(as Presiding Bishop of the REC)
1922–1930
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Bishop Robert Westly Peach
(as Presiding Bishop of the REC)
1930–1931
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Bishop Frank V.C. Cloak
1931–1953
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Bishop Joseph E. Kearny
(as Presiding Bishop of the REC)
1953–1957
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Bishop Howard D. Higgins
(as Presiding Bishop of the REC)
1957–1974
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Bishop Franklin Sellers
1974–1996
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Bishop Royal U. Grote, Jr.
Missionary Jurisdiction 1990–1996
Diocese of Mid-America 1996-2016
(Synod of Chicago merged with the Missionary Jurisdiction in 1996)
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Bishop Ray R. Sutton
2016–Present

Bishop Samuel Fallows  Bishop Ordinary Synod of Chicago (1916-1922) Presiding Bishop REC

Bishop Samuel Fallows
Bishop Ordinary Synod of Chicago (1916-1922)
Presiding Bishop REC

Bishop Franklin H. Sellers   Bishop Ordinary Synod of Chicago (1974 - 1996) Presiding Bishop REC

Bishop Franklin H. Sellers
Bishop Ordinary Synod of Chicago (1974 - 1996)
Presiding Bishop REC

Bishop Royal U. Grote, Jr.    Missionary Bishop SJNA/MDNA (1990-1996) Bishop Ordinary Diocese of Mid-America (1996 - 2016) Presiding Bishop REC

Bishop Royal U. Grote, Jr.
Missionary Bishop SJNA/MDNA (1990-1996)
Bishop Ordinary Diocese of Mid-America (1996 - 2016)
Presiding Bishop REC

Bishop Ray R. Sutton   Bishop Ordinary Mid-America (2016-Present) Presiding Bishop REC

Bishop Ray R. Sutton
Bishop Ordinary Mid-America (2016-Present)
Presiding Bishop REC

Other Bishops of the
Diocese of Mid-America

(alphabetical)

Bishop Walter Banek
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Bishop William Culbertson
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Bishop Charles Dorrington
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Bishop George Fincke
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Bishop Daniel R. Morse
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Bishop Winn Mott
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Bishop Sam Seamans