An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Righter, Walter Cameron

(b. Oct. 23, 1923). Bishop brought to trial for ordaining a homosexual. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Righter received his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1948 and his S.T.B. from the Berkeley Divinity School in 1951. He was ordained deacon on Apr. 7, 1951, and priest on Oct. 6, 1951. He began his ministry in Pennsylvania. From 1954 until 1972, he was the rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Nashua, New Hampshire. Righter was consecrated the seventh Bishop of Iowa on Jan. 12, 1972. He served in that position until his retirement on Dec. 31, 1988. From 1989 until 1991 he was Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Newark. On Sept. 30, 1990, Righter ordained Barry Lee Stopfel, a non-celibate homosexual, to the diaconate. Ten bishops brought a presentment against Righter, charging that he violated the doctrine of the church and his ordination vows by ordaining Stopfel. The Court for the Trial of a Bishop met in Hartford, Connecticut, and Wilmington, Delaware. The court issued its verdict on May 15, 1996. It stated that the Episcopal Church “has no doctrine prohibiting the ordination of homosexuals,” and that Bishop Righter did not contradict the “core doctrine” of the church. Righter reflected on the trial and his life in his book A Pilgrim's Way (1998).

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.