Requiem set for retired Pennsylvania Bishop Suffragan Franklin Turner

[Episcopal News Service] A requiem Eucharist for retired Diocese of Pennsylvania Bishop Suffragan Franklin Delton Turner is set for Jan. 11 at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral.

Turner, 80, died on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve in Philadelphia.

Turner, a former staff officer for black ministries at the Episcopal Church Center in New York from 1972-1983, was assistant to then Bishop of Pennsylvania Allen Bartlett in 1988 when he was elected suffragan bishop for that diocese.

Out of some 900 men who had up to that point in time been elected bishop in the Episcopal Church, Turner was approximately the 27th black priest elected. He was also the first black bishop of the then-205-year-old diocese. A total of nine candidates were in the running, including the Rev. Nancy Van Dyke Platt of Maine who, if elected, would have been the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion (that distinction fell in early 1989 to the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris).

Newly consecrated Bishop Suffragan of Pennsylvania Bishop Franklin D. Turner, left, receives his crosier, a gift from Mityana diocese in Uganda, from Pennsylvania diocesan Bishop Allen L. Bartlett, right center. Co-consecrator, Bishop John D. Walker of Washington, is at left center. The Very Rev. Thomas L. McClellan, right, was master-of-ceremonies at the Oct. 7, 1988, consecration. Photo: Archives of the Episcopal Church

Newly consecrated Bishop Suffragan of Pennsylvania Bishop Franklin D. Turner, left, receives his crosier, a gift from Mityana diocese in Uganda, from Pennsylvania diocesan Bishop Allen L. Bartlett, right center. Co-consecrator, Bishop John D. Walker of Washington, is at left center. The Very Rev. Thomas L. McClellan, right, was master-of-ceremonies at the Oct. 7, 1988, consecration. Photo: Archives of the Episcopal Church

Speaking in Nov. 6, 1992, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Philadelphia during a service to rebury the remains of Absalom Jones — the first African-American ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church — nearly 200 years after his death, Turner said that “we have indeed come this far by faith.”

“We can be justly proud of our sojourn in the Episcopal Church, although it has been an uphill struggle,” he said.

Turner officially retired as suffragan in 2000 and also served the diocese as an assisting bishop.
Turner was born in Norwood, North Carolina, on July 19, 1933. He earned his A.B. degree from Livingstone College and his S.T.B. degree from Berkeley Divinity School (from which he also held a D.D. degree); he pursued further graduate study at General Theological Seminary. He was ordained deacon, and later priest, in 1965. Turner was vicar of the Church of the Epiphany in Dallas (1965-1966) and rector of St. George’s Church in Washington, D.C. (1966-1972).

While in Washington, D.C., he founded the Washington Episcopal Clergy Association. He was also on the board of directors for the Kanuga Conference Center, and was a trustee of Berkeley Divinity School. Turner founded the Organization of Black Episcopal Seminarians. He was also the editor of the hymnal Lift Every Voice and Sing I. He served on the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council.

At the Jan. 11 requiem, Bartlett will preside and be assisted by Pennsylvania Bishop Provisional Clifton Daniel III. The Rev. Harold T. Lewis, rector of Calvary Church, Pittsburgh, who succeeded Turner at the Church Center, will preach.

Turner is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their children.

Comments

  1. Rick Britton says:

    Bishop Turner was one of my mentors as a priest in the Episcopal Church and offered support during my years in seminary when he was director of Episcopal Black Ministries. Thanks be to God for his life and ministry.

  2. The Rev. Dr. Raleigh Daniel Hairston says:

    It was with profound sadness that I received the news of the passing of the Rt. Rev. Franklin Turner. This brought back many memories of our times as students together in l954 at Livingstone College where we were members of the Hood Seminary pre- theological Union. In the College he was a sophmore, and a spanish studies student, and there I served as the freshman class president. Like myself he left membership in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and was confirmed in the Episcopal Church. After college graduation he went on to seminary and ordination, while I studied and pursued a career in social work ,and later attended and graduated from Bexley Hall and Colgate Rochester Divinity and School, and wound up as a “worker priest” in the Washington,DC area where we caught up with one another again. By this time Frank was very much involved in the life of the church, particularly related to black church minorities affairs, and other social justice issues, within the church and society. His election to the episcoporate helped to open up the doors for many other minorities, both blacks and females, in particular, to follow him in that office in the life of our church. His work at the Black desk was significant, and helpful to many, in the several ways in which he served in the local and larger life of our Anglican-Episcopal Church. It is good to see the preacher at his service as the Rev, Dr. Harold T. Lewis, Canon and Rector of Calvary Church, Pittsburgh, another illuminate bright star, and a hero of faith, in his continuing work, and witness in our Church. Also the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, III, who served excellently, and was my diocesan bishop, in the diocese of East Carolina, prior to my retirement as Rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Wilmington, NC, and also prior to his present work as provisional bishop of Pensylvania. May the soul of my dear departed brother, the Rt. Reverend Franklin D. Turner, rest in peace and someday rise in glory with our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen! Also my sister, Gaynell Hairston Gunn, known to Bishop Turner’s wife, through connections at Bluefield State College, Bluefield, West Virginia, joins me in extending deepest sympathy to the family, and know that our prayers are with you always.

  3. Rev. David Madsen says:

    During my first cure in Essington, PA (SE suburb of Philly), Bishop Turner made a diocesan visit to our parish. On that day the Bishop baptized several children and prayed over a group of candidates during Confirmation. At the end of the service he asked if anyone had a testimony (something that they would like to thank God for and tell others what was going on in their lives). He later encouraged me to continue that practice, and I have. I don’t always, but when I do I am always thankful for that advice. People should have the opportunity to give thanks in public for what God is doing in their lives. I will always have fond memories of the gentle giant, the Rt. Rev. Franklin D. Turner

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