An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Gordon, William Jones, Jr.

(May 6, 1918-Jan. 4, 1994). Bishop of Alaska. He was born in Spray, North Carolina. Gordon received his B.A. in 1940 from the University of North Carolina and his B.D. from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1943. He was ordained deacon on Jan. 24, 1943, and priest on July 25, 1943. Gordon was deacon-in-charge of St. Peter’s Church, Steward, Arkansas, in 1943, and priest-in-charge of St. Thomas Mission, Point Hope, Alaska, 1943-1948. He was consecrated the third Bishop of Alaska on May 18, 1948. He served in that position until his retirement on Aug. 28, 1974. From 1976 until 1986, he was Assistant Bishop of Michigan. Gordon learned to fly when he became Bishop of Alaska, and spent about six months a year traveling among the Indian and Eskimo villages in his single-engine plane. He was called “Alaska’s Flying Bishop.” The United Thank Offering purchased airplanes for his use. These planes were called the “Blue Box,” because UTO offerings were received in small blue boxes. He crashed at least six times. He was described as a “dynamic and unorthodox leader.” Gordon died in Midland, Michigan. See Blue Box (Bishop Gordon’s Airplane in Alaska); see Blue Box (UTO).

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.