Oldest Episcopal Priest Dies in Arizona at 108

Fr. Harold Knight reads a poem he wrote, in 2019

By Kirk Petersen

The Rev. Harold Knight, who at 108 was believed to be the oldest living Episcopal priest, died in November in Mesa, Arizona, where he lived. He graduated from seminary in 1937 and retired from full-time ministry at the age of 65 in 1977, and thus has the distinction of living through a retirement that lasted longer than his career.

In a letter to the diocese, Bishop of Arizona Jennifer A. Reddall said she visited him last year along with her predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Kirk Stevan Smith, and that Fr. Knight read a poem he had written:

I cannot go to church these days
But in spirit I am there.
I read the Sunday lessons
We are one in praise and prayer.

I miss familiar faces
But I see them in my mind.
I give my alms for the work of Christ
A willing pledge I sign.

Evil cannot conquer good
Christ’s teachings will always last;
When this is truly understood
With Christ our lot is cast.

–Father Harold Knight

And, Reddall said, “you can hear the poem in his own, stirring, voice:”

Fr. Knight was born in 1912. He received his master’s degree at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, a Baptist seminary in New York, and served as a Baptist pastor for about a dozen years before joining the Episcopal Church, according to Arizona’s East Valley Tribune. “He moved in 1957 to Mesa, where he was pastor of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church for 20 years.”

The paper added: “After retiring from St. Mark’s in 1977 as the longest-serving rector in its 104-year history, Father Knight served twice as interim rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Phoenix and also was a part-time staff member at St. Barnabas on the Desert Episcopal Church in Scottsdale.”

Fr. Knight is survived by Edithanne Knight, his wife of 47 years, who is 97. An archived copy of TLC shows he was previously married for 28 years to Marjorie Knight, who died at the age of 51 in 1965. He is survived also by his son from the previous marriage, Douglas, and by many, many grandchildren, great grandchildren, step-children and step-grandchildren.


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