An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Perry, James DeWolf

(Oct. 3, 1871-Mar. 20, 1947). Eighteenth Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. He was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Perry received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1891 and then received another B.A. from Harvard University in 1892. He received his B.D. from the Episcopal Theological School in 1895. Perry was ordained deacon on June 9, 1895. He began his ministry as an assistant at Christ Church, Springfield, Massachusetts. He was ordained priest on Feb. 18, 1896. From 1897 until 1904 he was rector of Christ Church, Fitchburg, Massachusetts. His last parochial ministry was as rector of St. Paul's Church, New Haven, Connecticut, 1904-1911. Perry was consecrated the seventh Bishop of Rhode Island on Jan. 6, 1911. He was elected Presiding Bishop by the House of Bishops on Mar. 26, 1930. Perry was reelected at the General Convention of 1931. He served until his retirement on Dec. 31, 1937. He was the last Presiding Bishop who retained his diocesan jurisdiction while serving in the national post. Perry was especially interested in foreign missions. In 1932 the Report of the Commission of Appraisal of the Laymen's Foreign Missions Enquiry was published with the title Rethinking Missions: A Layman's Enquiry after One Hundred Years. This independent commission was chaired by William Ernest Hocking. It was very critical of the missionary work of the Protestant churches. The National Council of the Episcopal Church asked Presiding Bishop Perry to make an independent study of the Episcopal Church's foreign missions. He and Mrs. Perry spent five months visiting mission stations in the Philippine Islands, China, Japan, and Hawaii. Upon his return to the United States, Perry announced his disagreement with the conclusions of Rethinking Missions. Perry died in Summerville, South Carolina.

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.