An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Potter, Henry Codman

(May 25, 1835-July 21, 1908). Bishop and advocate of social justice. He was born in Schenectady, New York, and was the son of Alonzo Potter, the third Bishop of Pennsylvania. In 1845 the family moved to Philadelphia, and he attended the Episcopal Academy in that city. He was a student at the Virginia Theological Seminary from 1854 to 1857. Potter was ordained deacon on May 27, 1857. His father placed him in charge of Christ Church, Greensburg, Pennsylvania. He was ordained priest on Oct. 15, 1858. In May 1859 he became the rector of St. John's Church, Troy, New York. He served there until Apr. 1866 when he was called to be assistant minister at Trinity Church, Boston. On Oct. 3, 1866, Potter was elected the seventeenth secretary of the House of Bishops. He was re-elected five times. He served until Oct. 23, 1883, when he had to step down after he became a bishop. After two years at Trinity Church, he was called to be the rector of Grace Church, New York. Potter was consecrated Assistant Bishop of New York on Oct. 20, 1883. He became the seventh Bishop of New York when his predecessor died on Jan. 2, 1887. He served in that position until his death. On Nov. 25, 1884, he heard the profession of James Otis Sargent Huntington as a monk. This was the beginning of the Order of the Holy Cross, the first monastic order for men in the Episcopal Church that was founded in the United States. Potter was one of the leaders of the Church Association for the Advancement of the Interests of Labor and a leading social gospel advocate in the Episcopal Church. He has been called “A Prophet of Social Reform.” He died in Cooperstown, New York.

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.