An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Kemper, Jackson

(Dec. 24, 1789-May 24, 1870). First missionary bishop of the Episcopal Church. He was born in Pleasant Valley, New York. He graduated from Columbia College in 1809 and studied for the ordained ministry under Bishop John Henry Hobart of New York. Kemper was ordained deacon on Mar. 10, 1811, and priest on Jan. 23, 1814. For twenty years he was assistant to Bishop William White in the United Parishes of Christ Church, St. Peter's, and St. James', Philadelphia. From the beginning of his ministry, Kemper championed western missions. He promoted a diocesan missionary society in Pennsylvania and was its first missionary. He was a prominent leader in the formation of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society in 1820 and 1821. He became the rector of St. Paul's Church, Norwalk, Connecticut, in 1831. On Sept. 25, 1835, he was consecrated Missionary Bishop of Indiana and Missouri. His jurisdiction grew to include Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, and Nebraska. Kemper visited General Theological Seminary in 1840 and inspired James Lloyd Breck, William Adams, and John Henry Hobart, Jr., to offer themselves for missionary work in the west. The following year they went to Wisconsin and founded Nashotah House. On Oct. 8, 1859, Kemper resigned his missionary jurisdictions and became the first Bishop of Wisconsin, where he remained until his death. A major result of his episcopate was seven organized dioceses, each with its own bishop. Kemper died in Delafield, Wisconsin, near Nashotah House. He is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on May 24.

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.