Recent Blog Posts

Blog Post Archives

Subscribe to Blog via Email (Version 1: Wordpress)

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog via Wordpress and receive notifications of new posts by email. You will receive emails every time—and as soon as—a new post is made.

Subscribe to Blog via Email (Version 2: Feedburner)

Use this link to subscribe to this blog via Feedburner and receive notifications of new posts by email:

You will receive just one email at the end of the day (around 11:00 PM Eastern Time) summarizing all the posts made during the day.

You may also use the “By Email” link in the upper right hand corner of the page.

A fond farewell to a memorable bishop

A pioneer of American Anglicanism’s traditionalist movement, Bishop Albion W. Knight Jr., was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on June 26th in a simple graveside service. Both a prelate and a retired Army brigadier general, he had, typically, declined full military honors on the grounds it was too hot for the Honor Guard, horses, and military band.

Bishop Knight, who was 87, passed away on May 22nd at his home in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He had been suffering from congestive heart failure.

He leaves a widow, Nancy Price Knight, to whom he was married for 41 years; a daughter from his first marriage, Nancy Lammie of Silver Spring, MD; two stepchildren, Brian Gill-Price of Langhorne, PA., and Darcy Smith of Jacksonville; two sisters; nine grandchildren; and 10 great–grandchildren.

Albion Williamson Knight Jr., was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of The Rt. Rev. Albion W. Knight, Bishop of Cuba, then the Canal Zone and, ultimately, the Diocese of New Jersey. Albion Jr., however, followed the somewhat paradoxical American tradition of pursuing simultaneous careers both in the Army and the Church. Like the famous Confederate soldier/parson Leonidas Polk, he rose not only to the episcopate, but to general officer’s rank.

Most of Bishop Knight’s early ministry was spent in The Episcopal Church (TEC), then named the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America (PECUSA). In the early 1980s, however, dismayed by the direction in which he perceived the church to be heading, he joined the traditionalist United Episcopal Church of North America, serving as its Presiding Bishop from 1989 to 1992.

In the late 1980s, he was persuaded by the late Fred Himes, a founder of this parish and a retired Baltimore radio and television executive, to head the Towson–based Church Information Service. The organization’s mission was to promote and support Anglican traditionalists both within and without PECUSA.

Despite generous funding from the deep pockets of Mr. Himes, and the tireless efforts of the bishop, the venture ended in failure, This was thanks in part to the ill–advised politicking of the late Graham Leonard, the English Bishop of London, and his supporters. Ultimately, Leonard renounced his Anglican Orders to become a Roman Catholic.

On reflection, however, it was the sadly flawed organizational concept developed by Mr. Himes and the bishop that was primarily responsible for the failure of their efforts to unify and promote the traditionalist movement.

Mr. Himes and Bishop Knight sought to build the Church Information Service from top down rather than from the bottom up. The consequence was a leadership struggle of epic proportions among the upper echelons of the people they were trying to reach, to the vast detriment of organizing at the grass roots.

It was an expensive—not to say, distressing—way to learn that what works in the business world and the military does not necessarily work in the Church. In retrospect, the vast amount of time, talent, energy, and treasure Bishop Knight and Mr. Himes invested in their efforts to persuade traditionally–inclined bishops to act in concert would probably have been much more effectively spent on planting new parishes.

Monday Morning Quarterbacking should not, however, detract from Bishop Knight’s tireless efforts to uphold the fundamental principles of Anglicanism. He was not the easiest person to work with, but, then, his self–appointed task of coaxing traditionalist bishops into cooperating with one another was much like herding cats.

Bishop Knight’s military career was crowned with rather more success than his service in the episcopate. A 1945 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., he received a master’s degree in communications engineering in 1950 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s in international affairs from American University in 1977.

In the late 1960s, he was assigned to the Atomic Energy Commission, where he was an assistant director of a research and development division. He was deputy commanding general of the Army Electronics Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J., in 1970 and 1971.

In Vietnam he served for more that a year as deputy commanding general of a signal brigade and deputy chief of staff for logistics, directing the drawdown of 125,000 troops. For his final active-duty assignment, in 1973, he was based in the Netherlands as assistant chief of staff for logistics with Allied Forces Central Europe. His decorations included the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.

After his retirement from the military, he served for three years with the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, a congressional committee in which he held a supervisory role over the Atomic Energy Commission’s weapons budget. Then from 1977 to 1983, he was a self–employed management consultant.

Something of a political gadfly, Bishop Knight accepted the 1992 vice presidential nomination for the ultra conservative U.S. Taxpayers Party. His venture in the political realm bore rather more fruit that his efforts on behalf of the United Episcopal Church.

All told, he and the party’s presidential candidate, conservative activist Howard Phillips, garnered 40,000 votes nationwide on a platform that included drastic reductions in government spending, the elimination of income tax, and withdrawal from the United Nations.

Sadly, Bishop Knight’s private life was afflicted by tragedy. His first wife, Lucile Stice Knight, whom he married in 1949, died in 1969. His stepson, Richard Price, passed away tragically young, in 1984.

Then, in 1995, Huntington’s Disease claimed the life of Kenneth, his son by his first marriage. The loving tenderness with which Bishop Knight cared for Kenneth during his long and painful battle with his terrible illness was an inspiration to all who witnessed it.

Generally speaking, however, tenderness and tolerance were not words that immediately sprang to mind in connection with Bishop Knight.

Certainly, the bishop, a profound Low Churchman, made heroic efforts to accommodate the ecclesiastical haberdashery and liturgical styles of the Anglo Catholic prelates who composed the majority of the traditionalist leadership.

But he was by no means as sympathetic to those of us in the rank and file clergy who were less than deeply attached to his personal brand of churchmanship.

As president of his Council Advice, I was frequently called upon to smooth ruffled feathers. The bishop was not a man invariably inclined to accept advice—still less criticism—graciously. But while life under his episcopate might have been frequently irritating and more than a little frustrating, it was never dull. Irascible he might have been, but Bishop Knight inspired great affection among his friends. He was one of 20th Century Anglicanism’s most memorable characters. GPH✠

Comments are closed.