Henry Nutt Parsley Jr (born October 29, 1948 in Memphis, Tennessee) was the 10th Episcopal Bishop of Alabama. As Diocesan Bishop, Parsley oversaw 92 Episcopal churches, 8 campus ministries and over 35,000 parishioners in Alabama, excluding the Gulf Coast region.
Parsley is the son of Henry and Barbara Parsley of Memphis. After matriculating from the Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina he attended the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. He completed his bachelor's in English (magna cum laude) in 1970, and married the former Rebecca Knox Allison of New Orleans that Summer. In the fall they moved to New York City where he pursued his Master of Divinity from the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1973 and was ordained as a deacon. He also studied spirituality and soteriology at Oxford and has received Doctoral degrees in Divinity from Sewanee and the General Theological Seminary (1998).
Parsley rose to the rank of priest in April 1974 and was assigned to Christ Church in Charlotte, North Carolina where he served 10 years. He also served as rector of St Paul's Church in Summerville, North Carolina and All Saints Church and Day School in Florence, North Carolina. He was assistant rector of St Philip's Church in Charleston, South Carolina and of Trinity Church in Myrtle Beach.
In 1997 he served on the Legislative Committee on Ministry for the General Convention in Philadelphia. He currently chairs the Standing Commission on Stewardship and Development, the Theology Committee, and the Church Pension Fund's Abundance Committee. He also serves on the Planning Committee of the House of Bishops.
In 2003 Parsley was one of a minority of 43 in the House of Bishops who voted against the ordination of V. Eugene Robinson, an openly gay priest, as Bishop Coadjutor for the Diocese of New Hampshire. His position on the issue of sexuality in the church is nuanced and he has demonstrated a desire to prevent a split in the worldwide church while calling for renewed focus on the gospel as the source of doctrine. He has expressed faith in the consultative process as a means of resolving complicated issues.
From 2003 to 2009 Parsley was elected from the Board of Regents to serve as 22nd Chancellor of the University of the South at Sewanee. After his six-year term he was succeeded by J. Neil Alexander, Bishop of Atlanta.
In 2006, Parsley was one of seven nominees for the office of Presiding Bishop over the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church of the United States of America. At the General Convention at Trinity Cathedral in Columbus, Ohio, Parsley received the second-highest total of 82 out of 188 votes cast in the fifth and deciding ballot. The Right Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected with a majority of 95 votes, and confirmed by the House of Deputies for a 9 year term.
In 2010 Parsley announced that he would retire at the end of 2011. In 2014 the Episcopal Diocese of Easton elected Parsley as Provisional Bishop to succeed their retiring bishop, James Shand. He served until a new Bishop of Easton was elected in 2016.
Parsley currently serve on the Board of The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development at St. Mary’s, Sewanee.
|10th Episcopal Bishop of Alabama
1998 - 2012
|Chancellor, University of the South
2003 - 2009
J. Neil Alexander
- Garrison, Greg (June 18, 2006) "Episcopalians to get new leader." The Birmingham News
- Hansen, Jeff (February 12, 2010) "Bishop Henry Parsley Jr announces retirement from Episcopal Diocese of Alabama." The Birmingham News