“An historic Church for modern times.”
Welcome to the website of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia. If you are not familiar with the Episcopal Church, I invite you to explore the various pages that describe our life in Christ. If you are already familiar with us, I invite you to delve deeper into the life of the Diocese and the Episcopal Church to deepen your faith. We have Episcopal churches in every area of the state and invite you to join us for worship.
-- The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer
7th Bishop, Diocese of West Virginia
The Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia consists of 66 active parishes. Although many of our parishes are small, all are encouraged to work diligently within their communities. The Episcopal Church in West Virginia is significantly involved in outreach programs throughout the state.
Our Diocese sponsors many programs and committees designed to aid seekers in their quests for a more fulfilling spiritual life. Young people are a high priority in our church, with our focus on helping them seek and serve Christ as they develop into spiritually mature adults.
As a people we are strong and full of the pioneering spirit that is a hallmark of our state. Our state motto, Montani Semper Liberi -- Mountaineers are always free -- perfectly captures our independence and durability. Although discord may occasionally touch our church, we are all in agreement that our common goals and aspirations will not be tainted by such limitations. As Christians – as West Virginia Episcopalians – we boldly face the chasm that lies between ‘what is’ and ‘what should be’ in our world, and we work each day to lessen that gap.
The Diocese of West Virginia was not separated from the Diocese of Virginia until 1877, more than a decade after the formation of the state. Some of our congregations trace their history to colonial days and have their origins in the westward movement of farming and trading families.
As timber, mining, steel and other industries were founded within the state, new communities were established. In these towns, new Episcopal congregations were planted to serve the needs of the influx of managers and merchants who swelled the population of the state. The Episcopal Church of WV became largely the church of the owners and bosses. Their roots, however, go as deeply as those of the miners and other laborers, for those populations also were increased in the same period with immigrants from Wales, Ireland, Italy and Eastern Europe, and some freed slaves from neighboring southern states.
West Virginia Episcopalians have historically sought a Bishop with a sturdy and devout character, with the ability to be a strong leader and visionary. The Rt. Rev. George Peterkin was the first bishop of the Diocese of WV. He was followed by Bishop Gravatt, Bishop Strider, Bishop Campbell, Bishop Atkinson and Bishop Smith. The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer is the seventh, and current, bishop. There are few enough Episcopalians in the state that the Bishop is able to get to know a great many members of each parish and our parishioners value that personal relationship with their Bishop.
The current Diocesan coat of arms was designed by Jan Campbell, wife of the Rt. Rev. Wilburn C. Campbell, the fourth Bishop of the Diocese of West Virginia. The blue and the gray suggest the origin of the State out of the Civil War. The jagged lines suggest the mountains that are characteristic of our state. The silver cross on gold honors the Diocese of Virginia, from which this Diocese was formed. The crossed silver swords of St. Paul on a red field are the arms of the Diocese of London from which the Anglican Church in America is descended. The Episcopal adornments of mitre, key and crozier symbolize Episcopal jurisdiction. The Diocesan Seal was originally done in grayscale; Mr. Don Williams of Bluefield added the colors as they are seen today.
The Rt. Rev. George W. Peterkin, the first Bishop of West Virginia (1878-1916), adopted a personal seal displaying a mitre with crossed key and crozier. Below the crozier and mitre were “Episcopus 1878.” The date signified both that of his consecration and the founding of the diocese. The Greek inscription at the top was the motto “For Christ and the Church,” and the lower half said “West Virginia” in Latin. The seal was used for many years as the Diocesan shield. The Diocese of West Virginia is included in the book Heraldry in the Episcopal Church by the Rev. Canon Eckford J. de Kay of the Diocese of El Camino Real. The book contains more than 600 illustrations of diocesan, cathedral, seminary and organizational seals, coats of arms and logos.