The Rt. Rev. Clarence N. Coleridge, Bishop of Connecticut from 1993 to 1999, died April 10 at 92.
Coleridge was an alumnus of Howard University, Drew Theological School, and General Theological Seminary. He was ordained deacon in 1961 and priest in 1962.
Coleridge, who was born in Georgetown, British Guyana, in 1930, arrived in America at 19 with 40 Guyanese dollars in his pocket. He stayed with a cousin on Long Island before finding his first job in America.
Before attending Drew, Coleridge felt torn between veterinary medicine and seminary, but that changed after he heard a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr.
After the sermon, he chatted briefly with King, who asked what he was studying. “It just came out, ‘I am studying for the ministry.’ He said, ‘I didn’t know Tuskegee had a theological seminary.’ I had to give him a quick explanation,” Coleridge told the Hartford Courant in July 1993, while preparing to become Bishop of Connecticut.
He served as bishop suffragan from 1981 to 1993, during the years that the Rt. Rev. Arthur Walmsley was bishop.
As bishop, the softspoken Coleridge mostly stayed out of the more obvious squabbles between bishops. When retired Bishop Walter Righter faced a possible trial for ordaining an openly gay man, Barry Stopfel, to the diaconate, Coleridge offered Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford as a place for the court to do its work.
The court held one pretrial hearing in Hartford. Many members of the Connecticut diocese protested the court’s presence, so the court moved to Wilmington, Delaware, to hold another pretrial hearing and then to exonerate Righter.
Coleridge’s wife, Euna, preceded him in death in 2017. He is survived by two daughters, Cheryl and Caroline.