An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Washington, George

(Feb. 22, 1732-Dec. 14, 1799). First President of the United States and Episcopal vestryman. He was born on the family estate “Wakefield” in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Washington was baptized on Apr. 5, 1732, “according to conformity of the Church of England.” He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1759-1774, and was a delegate to the Continental Congress. He was a leader of Virginia's opposition to British control. On June 15, 1775, he was named commander in chief of the Continental forces. He resigned from the army in 1783, and retired to Mount Vernon. Washington presided at the Federal Constitutional Convention in 1787, and in 1789 the unanimous vote of the electors made him the first President of the United States. He served as president until 1797, the end of his second term. He refused to run for a third term and returned to Mount Vernon. Washington attended Pope's Creek Church in Westmoreland County. He was married in the Anglican Church in Virginia, presumably at St. Peter's Church in Kent. He attended services at the Pohick Church regularly, and served on its vestry. The Rev. Lee Massey, the rector, stated, “I never knew so constant an attendant on church as Washington.” Washington owned two pews in the Pohick Church and one in Christ Church, Alexandria. He was an active member of the Truro vestry from 1763 until 1784. On three occasions he also served as one of the church wardens. Washington probably attended church about once a month while president. There are no records substantiating that he was a communicant. He bequeathed his Bible to his friend, the Rev. Brian Lord Fairfax, Episcopal clergyman of Fairfax County, Virginia. The Bible had been given to him by the Rev. Thomas Wilson, the only son of the Rt. Rev. Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man, England. Washington died at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

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.