Who We Are

All Our Memories

State Demographics

  • Population --  1.8 million people
  • Largest Cities  --  Charleston (47,000 population);  Huntington (46,000);  Morgantown (31,000)
  • Median Age  --  42 years old;  20% population under age 18 years;  20% population over age 65
  • Race / Ethnicity  --  93% White; 3.6% Black;  1.7% Hispanic
  • Education  --  86% High School Diploma;  20% Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
  • Median Household Income  --  $44,900 per year
  • Poverty  --  18% of population lives below federal poverty level
  • Health Care --  Ranked 48th in the country. 2nd in the country for drug abuse, 1st in nation for obesity and diabetes, 25% smoke (highest in the nation), 12% drink excessively.
  • Religious Affiliations --  78% Christian; 3% Non-Christian; 18% Unaffiliated
    Major Christian Denominations: United Methodist, 23%; American Baptist, 17%
  • Higher Education Institutions  --  21colleges & universities;  7 community & technical colleges;  3 medical schools;  1 law school;  1 dental school
  • Major Universities  --  West Virginia University (Morgantown –30,000 students); Marshall University (Huntington – 10,000 students)
  • Recreation  --  45 state parks & forests;  3 ski resorts;  many whitewater rafting outfitters

Diocesan Data

  • Churches and Missions  --  65
  • Deaneries  --  7
  • Clergy  --  50 active clergy (including 15 holding a LTO); 38 retired clergy
  • Diocesan Retreat Center  –-  Sandscrest  (Wheeling WV)
  • Number of Baptized Episcopalians in WV  --  7,510  (down 6% from 8,016 in 2017)
  • Total Operating Income of all 65 Parishes Combined --  $7.751 million  (2018)
  • Total Calculated Missionary Apportionment of all 65 Parishes --  $1.230 million  (2018)
  • WV Diocesan Operating Budget 2020  --  $1.962 million  (Balanced budget)
  • WV Diocesan Audit Report 2018  --  $19.785 million Total Assets;   $545,000 Liabilities;   $19.239 Net Assets ($13.44 million restricted;  $5.79 million unrestricted)
  • Diocesan Summer Camp –  Peterkin (Romney WV)
  • Average Sunday Attendance (Diocesan total)  --  2,398

Ministries & Programs

Peterkin -- Nestled in a valley near historic Romney, West Virginia, Peterkin Camp and Conference Center boasts 1,400 acres of unsurpassed natural beauty, with clean mountain streams and miles of hiking trails. Peterkin offers a refuge of serenity amid the stress and hectic pace of our everyday lives, a place that encourages us to relax and reconnect with nature by enjoying outdoor activities such as trout fishing, hiking, swimming and tennis. The quiet wooded coves are perfect for quiet times of meditation and relaxation. Peterkin offers comfortable accommodations and excellent recreational opportunities for all ages.  Summer camps are available for youth, adults and families. Accommodations are available for more than 175 people year round and for more than 200 in warmer months. www.peterkin.org 

Sandscrest --  The Diocese operates the Sandscrest Conference & Retreat Center. A unique spiritual retreat center located in Wheeling WV.  Sandscrest is a haven for those seeking to rest their mind, body and soul away from the pressures of everyday life.  Sandscrest offers lodging, dining, and conference facilities on a property of 285 acres of rolling hills and lawns.  Sandscrest is operated as a non-profit entity by the Sandscrest Foundation, Inc. www.sandscrest.com 

Highland Educational Project (HEP)
 --  The Highland Educational Project has been an outreach ministry of the Diocese of WV for over 70 years.  It is located in Welch, WV – one of the state’s most impoverished counties (McDowell County).  HEP began as a mission-based organization that assisted residents with aid such as clothing, food pantry, and utility bills.   Following a period of revisioning and restructuring, HEP now operates as a more vital outreach program that supports addiction recovery, home repairs, and family & youth education programs in McDowell County. www.highlandeducationalproject.org 

Reading Camps
 - The Diocese of West Virginia launched its Reading Camps in the Summer of 2012. The program was a success its first year and has continued to grow. Reading Camps offers intensive instruction to children in grades 2 through 4 who are identified by their schools as being behind grade level in reading. Reading Camp teachers don’t use the teaching methods found in most schools. Instead, they use games, pictures, books and music to engage the interest of children and make learning fun. Campers enjoy the relaxed, stress-free and failure-free atmosphere and leave camp with a new understanding of the joy of reading, as well as other skills that will help them in every area of their lives. 

--  The Dayspring is the official newspaper publication of the Diocese of West Virginia. It is published three (3) times per year and is mailed to all Episcopal households in the state. 

Commission on Racism & Diversity (CORD)  -- The purpose of the Commission On Racism and Diversity (CORD) is to work for the eradication of racism, whether in the church, or in the community. With the utilization of education, group interaction, anti-racism dialogues, and prayer, the goal of the commission is to bring about mutual understanding, respect, appreciation, and fair treatment of people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Education for Ministry
 --  First year students concentrate on the Old Testament; second year students complete the New Testament; third year students learn church history; and fourth year students develop their own theologies based on their studies. 

Commission on Ministry
 --  The Commission on Ministry (COM) has the task of overseeing and developing the ministry of the diocese in conjunction with the Bishop.  The COM meets twice annually (Spring andFall).  The Fall meeting includes recommendations from the Ministry Discernment Retreat (MDR) staff concerning postulancy for nominees attending the Fall MDR. The Spring meeting includes candidacy interviews, attestations as to continuing formation, and recommendations concerning postulancy. The Commission on Ministry oversees work on the discernment and formation process for the diaconate and for those who feel called to the priesthood and expect to attend seminary. 

Women’s Ministries
--  The Women’s Ministries program consists of six (6) ministries:  the Book of Remembrance program;  Love-In-Action;  the Church Periodical Club;  Daughters of the King; United Thank Offering (UTO);  Gifts from the Heart;  and the annual Diocesan Women’s Conference. 

Youth Ministries
 --  Historically, Youth Ministries are all about relationships.   Youth Ministries develop programs and host events for students (6th thru 12th grades) to provide them with a safe place to wrestle with the tough questions about life and faith, to play games, and to be part of a supportive and welcoming community. Little has been done in recent years with regards to Youth Ministries and it is a ministry in need of revitalization.  

Children’s Ministries --  Our Diocesan Children’s Ministries develops a variety of programs and provides resources to parishes for use with younger children (pre-school thru 5th grade). 

West Virginia Iona School
-- The Diocesan program designed to address the need for local formation for those seeking ordination as priests or deacons along with providing top quality formation for the laity. It is offered in cooperation with the Iona Collaborative, a program of Seminary of the Southwest, a cooperative project currently including twenty-nine Episcopal Dioceses throughout the country.  

Our Challenges

We live in a beautiful state filled with rivers, valleys, and forests. We think of it as “Almost Heaven.” West Virginians are warm-hearted, caring people though they have a significant laissez faire attitude and a strong sense of the importance of self-reliance. It has been said, we become the place that we live. West Virginians are very much shaped by their surroundings. Nestled in the heart of Appalachia, West Virginia is the home of a unique people and a unique land. It has some of the most rugged land in the country. This ruggedness creates exquisite beauty, but also difficult conditions. Rivers and mountains make getting from one place to another difficult, and roads are hard to maintain. Isolation becomes an issue for West Virginians. 

West Virginia is the only state that is situated completely within the Appalachian Region, and it shares many of the traits common with this region:            
  • Large income disparity between Appalachia and the rest of the nation as a whole
  • Relatively high unemployment compared with the rest of the country
  • Outmigration of people
  • Over-concentration of employment in extractive industries (timber, coal, natural gas)
  • Relatively poor quality of available housing
  • Relative isolation due to transportation, broadband Internet, and cell phone access
  • Relatively low educational levels

Under such circumstances, these mountain people have become hard working, God fearing, fiercely independent, resourceful and leery of outsiders. Family units are very tight. We are also a generous people. We rate number one in the nation for volunteerism. Even though we are rated 50 in entertainment, we make our own fun! West Virginia has 45 state parks. People hunt, fish, ski, raft and kayak. Any event can be the reason for a festival. There are apple butter, chocolate, antique car, buckwheat, arts and crafts and gun and knife festivals. There are reunions, flea markets and homecomings. We are skilled at creating our own music. Public education has a state-wide structure that ensures financial equity even to the poorest of counties, which has improved the overall level of education. The growth and development of regional hospitals have helped improve the healthcare provided to all within relatively short driving distances.
The Diocese of West Virginia and the people who make up the congregations of our parishes are formed by this environment. We are West Virginians and proud of it. But, we are aging and our numbers are slowly declining. We have a significant number of small churches with a growing problem of financing and attracting clergy. The distances from one end of the diocese to the other is significant and our parishes and clergy often feel somewhat isolated. Many of our young people are leaving home to find their opportunities elsewhere, most often out-of-state. There is somewhat of a disconnect between our more affluent, better educated urban parishes and the small congregations found scattered throughout rural West Virginia. As a diocese, we need to improve ways of bringing all together and creating a vibrant, effective diocesan community. The isolation experienced by not only the small rural churches but the larger urban parishes as well continues to sap the energy and satisfaction levels found in clergy and laity alike. 

The challenge is here for our bishop, clergy, and laity to tap into the talent, dedication, and spirituality that remains the strength and glue holding our diocese and parishes together and to offer and develop a shared vision that can unite us and, thereby, strengthening our various ministries and programs. God is with us. We are not alone. But we need to find strength and unity in a common vision and ministry that will bind us and hold us as we strive to understand what God wants of us and what kind of world we are meant to build.

Charleston – Our Capital City

O Palsson, CC BY 2.0
, via Wikimedia Commons
While the Diocese of West Virginia does not have a cathedral, the diocesan office is located in the capital city of Charleston. Charleston is a vibrant small city with a variety of attractions in a setting of natural beauty.  It is small enough to be easy to learn one’s way around yet large enough to meet many cultural, medical, and education needs.  The diocesan office is located a short distance from the capitol on a shaded residential street.  Housing is available as are good public schools and there are two universities in the greater Charleston area.

The performing and visual arts are well represented by, among others:   
The City of Charleston provides a wide range of municipal services while also promoting asense of community.  Residents are now being invited to participate in a city-wide reading program, kayaking is encouraged with a new launch ramp on the Elk River; there is other boating on the Kanawha River; and walking trails are numerous (including those at Kanawha State Forest).

Charleston is currently renovating and expanding its city library, which will reopen in 2022.https://reimagineyourlibrary.com/

Three interstate highways pass through Charleston. Yeager Airport offers daily flights to several hub cities, and Amtrak’s Cardinal passenger train serves the city with an unusual schedule of westbound service three days per week and eastbound three days.

With this said, there is no question that Charleston, and indeed all of West Virginia, is a less vibrant place than it has been. People continue to move away as businesses decline and good jobs are hard to find. The Kanawha Valley was once the second largest chemical center in the world, and vestiges of that remain, but the title is lost and will not return. The state has long been dependent on coal mining and steel making for its industrial base, and both are in decline and unlikely to rebound.

As a response, there are efforts to move the state toward renewable energy. In recent years, there has been an increase in jobs in energy, construction, manufacturing and other industries. Diversification is the key word most often heard with discussions of the economic future of the state and there are signs the state is turning things around.

The people of West Virginia are resilient and friendly. Much of the state is beautiful. There is a strong religious flavor to the state. And, there is a growing optimism. Leadership must work with the residents to forge a shared vision and help us implement it.

The same is true with the Diocese of West Virginia. We will be more successful in building God’s Kingdom here in Almost Heaven West Virginia with leadership working with the parishes to create a shared vision and finding the means to implement it. Is this the place for you to call home?