The first diocesan conventions
by Sue Rehkopf, archivist of the Diocese of Missouri
The Rt. Rev. Bishop called the meeting to order… And so began the first Convention of the Diocese of Missouri. With five parishes now organized in Missouri, and more soon to follow, a few clergymen and laymen met informally in the fall of 1840 to discuss the possibility of organizing the parishes across the state into a Diocese. A primary convention was called on the 16th of November 1840 at the new Christ Church (at 5th and Chestnut Streets) in St. Louis. The day began with Morning Prayer read by the Rev. Chaplin Hedges, chaplain at Jefferson Barracks, and a sermon preached by the Rev. Peter Minard, rector of St. Paul’s Church in the city.
In addition to the Rev. Messrs. Hedges and Minard, there were six other clergy present in Convention: the Rev. Silas Crane, president of Kemper College; the Rev. Wm. Hommann, from Grace Church, Jefferson City; the Rev. James Mead, rector of Christ Church, Booneville; the Rev. Thomas Paine, rector, St. Paul’s Church, Palmyra; the Rev. Frederick Peake, rector of Christ Church, St. Louis; and the Rev. Isaac Smith, rector of Trinity Church, St. Charles.
Missionary Bishop Jackson Kemper presided at this first Convention, and the first order of business was to appoint a committee to examine credentials of lay delegates. The committee reported lay delegates from four of the five congregations, a total of 16 men. Delegates from Booneville were unable to be present.
The most important resolution to come before the primary Convention was this:
Whereas, the Clergy and Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in of the United States, living in Missouri, and deeming it expedient to unite themselves into a Diocese to be in Union with the General Convention of said Church, be it therefore
Resolved, By the Clergy and Laity aforesaid, that they be, and are hereby united and formed into a Diocese to be styled and known as the Diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of Missouri, and to be in union with the General Convention of said Church.
The resolution was adopted unanimously.
The Convention business went on, appointing committees to begin the work of creating this new diocese.
Over the two days of Convention, Rules of Order and Constitution and Canons were written and presented, members were elected to the Standing Committee, and four clergy and four laymen were elected deputies to General Convention. Six men were appointed to the committee on the establishment of a permanent fund for the maintenance of the Episcopate in the Diocese.
When General Convention met in New York in October 1841, Missouri’s resolution was approved by both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, and Missouri became the second diocese west of the Mississippi.
At the second Convention of the Diocese it was “unanimously resolved that the Rt. Rev. Jackson Kemper DD be hereby respectfully requested by this Convention to take the full Episcopal charge and authority of this Diocese of Missouri.”
The Bishop agreed to stay until the new Diocese could support its own bishop. Had he been willing to become the first Bishop of Missouri the Diocese would have welcomed him, but he felt his work was as a missionary. He remained in Missouri until the Rt. Rev. Cicero Hawks became first Bishop of Missouri in 1844.
The Rev. Frederick Peake, rector of Christ Church and the Rev. Peter Minard, rector of St. Paul’s Church in the city of St. Louis.
From the November 2015 edition of Seek: Voices of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri