This commemoration is a 2018 addition to A Great Cloud of Witnesses
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Last updated: 3 November 2018
Thomas Atkinson (August 6, 1807 – January 4, 1881) was the third Episcopal Bishop of North Carolina.
Atkinson was born in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. He graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 1825. Upon graduation, he practiced law for eight years before turning to theology. In January 1828, he married Josepha Gwinn Wilder, with whom he had three children.
Atkinson was ordained deacon on November 18, 1836, and ordained priest the following year. After his ordination to the priesthood, served as rector of parishes in Norfolk, Lynchburg and Baltimore. In 1843 and 1846, he was elected bishop of Indiana, declining the honor both times.
Atkinson was elected Bishop of North Carolina on May 28, 1853, following the resignation of Bishop Ives in December the previous year. As bishop, Atkinson founded a church school for boys in Raleigh and the Ravenscroft School in Asheville. He urged the religious instruction of slaves. Initially opposing secession, after the Civil War began, Bishop Atkinson affiliated with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America.
After the war, in 1866, Atkinson recommended placing the operation of black Episcopal churches fully in the hands of black clergymen, and the Diocesan Convention passed a series of resolutions doing so. Two years later, he opened the Episcopal school for blacks near Raleigh that eventually became St. Augustine's College. Atinson died on January 4, 1881 at his home in Wilmington; he was buried on January 7 within St. James Episcopal Church in Wilmington, North Carolina.
works by and about him at Project Canterbury