Church Loses Two Retired Mid-Atlantic Bishops

Bishop Joslin

By Mark Michael

The retired bishops of two Mid-Atlantic dioceses, the Rt. Rev. David Joslin, eighth Bishop of Central New York and the Rt. Rev. Charlie Fuller McNutt Jr., seventh Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, died a day apart, October 24 and 25.

Joslin, 87, was a native of New Jersey, and followed his father into Methodist ministry after graduating from Drew University’s theological school. He became an Episcopalian, and after further study at Episcopal Divinity School, was ordained as a priest in 1965, and served parishes in New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Minnesota.

In 1991, he was elected as coadjutor to the Rt. Rev. O’Kelley Whitaker of Central New York, and became bishop diocesan the following year. A few months later, the Rev. Wallace A. Frey, vice president of the House of Deputies and rector of a parish near Syracuse, resigned from the ministry when a sex scandal was revealed. Joslin’s episcopal ministry focused on congregational renewal and ecumenical ministry.

“Bishop Joslin entered his episcopate in Central New York prayerfully and thoughtfully, two traits he brought to his entire tenure. From 1991 through the turn of the century, he was a steady and visionary leader for our diocese,” said the Diocese of Central New York’s 10th bishop, the Rt. Rev. DeDe Duncan-Probe.

“I’m grateful for the ways that Bishop Joslin was faithful in his ministry, especially his support for women in ministry. He lived out his call as a leader with grace and I treasure the conversations we shared and the opportunity I had to know him as a sibling in Christ.”

Joslin stepped down from leading the Diocese of Central New York in 2000, and was appointed as a bishop provisional to steer the Diocese of New Jersey through a difficult transition after the resignation of the Rt. Rev. Joe Morris Doss. A few years later, he moved on to the Diocese of Long Island to oversee a similar process after the retirement of Bishop Orris Walker. He also served for a time as bishop visitor to the Sisters of St. Margaret.

He retired to Westerly, Rhode Island, where he had previously served as a rector for over a decade. The diocesan Cathedral of Saint John closed during his tenure as interim dean, and he assisted with parish visitations. He is survived by his second wife, Missy, and by two children. A Requiem Eucharist celebrating his life and commending him to God will take place at Christ Church, Westerly, at 11 a.m. Saturday, November 4.

The Rev. Charlie McNutt, left, when he was rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Martinsburg, W.Va., led an effort in July 1975 to support newly arrived Cambodian refugees. | Episcopal Archives

McNutt, 92, was a native of Charleston, West Virginia. He studied at Washington and Lee and at Virginia Seminary, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1956 by the Rt. Rev. Wilburn Campbell, Bishop of West Virginia.

His early ministry was in the Diocese of Florida, where he served a canon on diocesan staff and led churches in Jacksonville and Tallahassee. He became rector of Trinity Church in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in 1964, where he served on the City Council and led the creation of a housing project for the disabled.

He was elected as bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania in 1980, and succeeded the Rt. Rev. Dean T. Stevenson as diocesan bishop in 1982. During his ministry, the diocese established the St. Barnabas Center for Ministry in Harrisburg, in cooperation with the local synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and planted at least two churches that continue in ministry today.

McNutt also expanded and strengthened the diocesan education program now known as the Stevenson School. Under the direction of Dean Sarah Stonesifer Boylan, the school now serves students from more than 20 dioceses, offering training for licensed and ordained ministry, as well as continuing education programs for clergy and laity.

The Rt. Rev. Audrey Scanlan, Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, told TLC she had spoken with two senior clergy in the diocese about McNutt’s ministry.

“Both of them said that Charlie was a ‘pastor first,’ caring for his clergy and recognizing the responsibility that he had to shepherd his people. He was noted as being ‘very much present in the parishes of the diocese,’ traveling across the length and breadth of the diocese in the ‘pre-technology’ (i.e., Zoom) days, understanding the importance of his presence and support.”

After 14 years of episcopal ministry, McNutt resigned and became the Episcopal Church’s chief operating officer, working to improve transparency and bolster confidence in national church leadership in the aftermath of the embezzlement of $1.5 million by church treasurer Ellen Cooke.

McNutt and his wife, Alice, lived in the Harrisburg area in the final decades of his life. He is survived by her and by three children and seven grandchildren.

His funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. November 25 at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


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