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BEDELL, GREGORY THURSTON

BEDELL, GREGORY THURSTON

BEDELL, GREGORY THURSTON (27 Aug. 1817-11 Mar. 1892), bishop coadjutor of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Ohio (1859-73) and third bishop of Ohio (1873-89), was born in Hudson, N.Y. to Rev. Gregory Townsend and Penelope (Thurston) Bedell. He graduated from Bristol College in 1836 and from the Theological Seminary of Ohio in 1840. Ordained in 1841, was Bp. Chas. McIlvaines's assistant for 14 years, then worked in New York City before becoming bishop coadjutor in Ohio. In the early 1870s, Bedell was involved in an evangelical-versus-tractarian dispute that decimated the administrative, faculty, and student ranks at Bexley Hall, the Episcopal seminary at Kenyon College. He eventually reconciled to high church practices, accepting vested choirs, hymn singing, surplices for the clergy, and a cross and flowers on the altar in the chancel. Ill health led to his retirement to New York City in 1889.

During the CIVIL WAR, Bedell and Bp. McIlvaine preached loyalty to the Union and urged Episcopal clergymen to stay out of politics. In 1874 he presided over a statewide convention that divided Ohio into 2 dioceses. Between 1881-87, when the Ohio Episcopal Church faced a crisis in church growth, Bedell traveled to counter the slump. He also worked on a financial assistance plan for the diocese and began the annual parish sermon on endowing the episcopacy. He advocated an Episcopal central cathedral, leading to the development of Cleveland's TRINITY CATHEDRAL (consecrated 1907). He was married to Julia Strong. Bedell died in New York City and was buried in Gambier, Ohio.