The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

Clarence N. Coleridge

Thirteenth Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut: Bishop Suffragan 1981-1993 Diocesan Bishop 1993-1999

Biographical/Historical Note:

Born in Georgetown, British Guyana in 1930, Clarence Coleridge is the eldest of 16 children of a devout Congregationalist family that prayed daily.  At age 15, stricken with malaria, Clarence prayed for “50 more years”—which he has thus far exceeded. As a boy, Clarence worked in his father’s shoemaker shop, and went as far as he could in school at the time. 

He left Guyana (which became the independent in 1966) to further his education. After attending Lincoln University in Pennsylvania for a year, he discerned that his ministry would be in medicine, and received a Bachelor of Science degree from Howard University in 1954. After graduation, Clarence was torn between following a path of study in Veterinary Medicine at Tuskegee University in Alabama and pursuing theology at Drew University in New Jersey.

He “felt his heart strongly warmed” upon listening to a sermon given by Martin Luther King. Stirred to approach him after the service, Clarence spontaneously told him that he wanted to be what King was, and thus he chose his path to the priesthood. After receiving his Master of Divinity degree from Drew University in 1960, he considered becoming a Congregationalist minister. One day, walking by St. Philip’s Church in New York City, and wanting to know more about the Episcopal Church, he went to the rector’s office declaring “I want to be a priest,” again spontaneously. One could conclude that his steps were guided by the Holy Spirit, as his path at times appears entirely accidental. After spending a year at General Theological Seminary, Clarence was ordained to the diaconate in 1961 and to the priesthood in January of 1962 in the Diocese of Newark. St. Mark’s in Bridgeport called him to be Rector, after he had served as a Curate to two parishes in New York City. He faithfully served in Bridgeport from 1966 to 1981. In Bridgeport he served as Director of Counseling Services on the United Way and he served many Bridgeport agencies, including Episcopal Social Services.

Other of his educational achievements include a Master of Social work and attendance at the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry, and he is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers and a Diplomate of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. He received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Andover-Newton School of Theology. Honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees have been bestowed upon him from Trinity College, Berkeley Divinity School and General Theological Seminary

Elected Bishop Suffragan of the diocese on May 26, 1981 at a special convention, Bishop Coleridge was consecrated at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hartford. Prior diocesan work included membership on the Social Concerns Committee, member and President of the Standing Committee, service as a pastoral counselor and board member for Unicorn Counseling Service (a division of Episcopal Social Service); Task Force on Hunger; member and Chairman of the Connecticut Urban Caucus as well as service on many community boards in Bridgeport.  As Suffragan Bishop, he had pastoral oversight for the western part of the state, from Litchfield to Greenwich. By his impetus and passion to help underserved children, the Bishop’s Fund for Children became a reality. The monies raised go to support programs that educate and uplift children at risk in Connecticut.

 

Bishop Coleridge particularly likes reading and writing. His personal focus has been on family, the Church, and preaching. Perhaps because of his modest background, his episcopate has been characterized by a particular sensitivity for the concerns of everyday people and pastoral caring. He also has a reputation for delivering inspired sermons, often preaching extemporaneously.  He served as Diocesan Bishop from 1993 to 1999. He and his wife, Euna, who is an integral part of his ministry, have retired in Connecticut.

Biographical Note by Samuel McAdoo

Collection Summary:

Creator:  Coleridge, Clarence N., 1930-
Title and Citation: Coleridge, Clarence Nicholas   B.A., MSW, Rt. Rev., 1930-    Thirteenth Bishop of   Connecticut, Courtesy of the Archives of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. This series is part of Record Group 1: Diocesan Bishops (RG1: A13)
Dates:    [inclusive] 1981-1999
Extent:   19.5 Cubic feet
Language:  English
Formats:  Manuscripts, documents, photographs, scrapbooks, artifacts
Processed: Margaret Smith
Scope and Content Note: This record group details the personal and professional life of the Rt. Rev. Clarence Coleridge, Thirteenth Bishop of Connecticut, his election and consecration, and Episcopal acts. The record group includes his early career, personal and professional correspondence, and his involvement in community affairs, photographs, artifacts, educational and professional achievements, biographies, and literary publications, among other historical and cultural documents. These files also contain published papers and sermons that are available to the public with the Bishop’s permission.
Archival Note: Papers of the bishops are subject to the “70-year” rule, leaving them unavailable for 70 years beyond retirement, unless approved by the Bishop. The exceptions are public writings (under copyright) and the permission of the bishop.

 

Collection Inventory:

  • Box 1: Coleridge\ Parish Files, Series I, Ansonia, Christ - New Canaan, St. Mark's\

  • Box 2: Coleridge\ Parish Files, Series I, New Haven, St. Andrew's - Woodbury, St. Paul's

  • Box 3: Coleridge\ Deaneries & Parish Files, 2nd Series, Ansonia, Christ - Collinsville, Trinity

  • Box 4: Coleridge\ Parish Files, 2nd Series, Danbury, St. James' - Litchfield, St. Michael's

  • Box 5: Coleridge\ Parish Files, 2nd Series, Madison, St. Andrew's - Niantic, St. John's

  • Box 6: Coleridge\ Parish Files, 2nd Series, North Branford, Zion - Stafford Springs, Grace

  • Box 7: Coleridge\ Parish Files, 2nd Series, Stamford, Emmanuel - Yantic, Grace

  • Box 8: Coleridge\ Parish Files, Individual Correspondence "A - Z" and Clergy Files "A - FE"

  • Box 9: Coleridge\ Clergy Files "FER - Z" and Topic Files

  • Box 10: Coleridge\ Topic Files, Caribbean, ChrisCon, Clergy Licenses, Church Home of Hartford

  • Box 11: Coleridge\ Topic Files, "COM - PAS"

  • Box 12: Coleridge\ Correspondence Files, 1989 - 1999

  • Box 13: Coleridge\ Correspondence Files with Clergy, Photographs