History

history2Our diocese was originally part of the Diocese of New York, which at its founding in 1785 was comprised of all of New York State. In 1839, the state was divided into two dioceses by a roughly north-south line drawn just east of Utica. The entire state west of that line became the Diocese of Western New York. Subsequent splits in 1868 and 1929 created the dioceses of Central New York and Rochester.

Today the Diocese of Western New York is comprised of the seven most western counties in the state: Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming. This area of roughly 5423 square miles is bounded on the north by Lake Ontario, on the west by Lake Erie, on the south by Pennsylvania, and on the east by the Diocese of Rochester.

Within our boundaries, approximately 16,000 adult communicants worship in 59 different congregations. Our bishop, the Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin and the diocesan staff work out of offices located at 1064 Brighton Rd. in Tonawanda, NY. St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, graces the heart of downtown Buffalo at 128 Pearl Street. As members of the Diocese of Western New York, we are part of The Episcopal Church USA and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Eleven bishops have served Western New York:

  • The Rt. Rev. William Heathcote DeLancey (1839-1865)
  • The Rt. Rev. Arthur Cleveland Coxe (1865-1896)
  • The Rt. Rev. William David Walker (1896-1917)
  • The Rt. Rev. Charles Henry Brent (1917 to 1927)
  • The Rt. Rev. David Lincoln Ferris (1927 to 1930)
  • The Rt. Rev. Dr. Cameron Davis (1930 to 1947)
  • The Rt. Rev. Lauriston Livingston Scaife (1948 to 1970)
  • The Rt. Rev. Harold Barrett Robinson (1968 to 1987)
  • The Rt. Rev. David Charles Bowman (1987 to 1998)
  • The Rt. Rev. J. Michael Garrison (1999 to 2011)
  • The Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin (2011 to present)

The First Nine Bishops of WNY

 

Diocesan Archives

The Diocesan Archives include historical diocesan documents and artifacts. The records from all closed diocesan churches are also retained in the archives. Limited historical information about all diocesan churches, primarily in the form of special anniversary booklets, can be found here, too.

The diocesan archivist maintains the collection, which is housed at the diocesan office. Please note:

  • The Diocesan Archives are a closed archive, open by appointment to serious researchers.
  • Requests for information may be to archivist Susan Witt at archives@episcopalwny.org
  • Sacramental certificates from the records of the closed churches will be issued as soon as possible.
  • Genealogical searches will be done only if sufficient information is given at the time of the request.
  • We cannot do searches of a general nature when only a name is provided.
  • Nominal fees are charged for research and copying.