The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston was born in Duncan, Oklahoma. His family has had a long and distinguished history in the Choctaw Nation. His great grandfather, Martin Charleston, was a senator in the government of the Choctaw Nation and founded several Presbyterian churches in southeastern Oklahoma as an ordained pastor of that denomination. His grandfather, Simeon Charleston, was also an ordained Presbyterian pastor and preached in the Choctaw language for many years throughout the state. His father, “Choc” Charleston, owned and operated The Choctaw Trading Post in Oklahoma City for over twenty years.
Bishop Charleston was confirmed at Saint Paul’s Cathedral by the Rt. Rev. Chilton Powell. He attended Church of the Resurrection as a teenager and on the advice of his priest, the Rev. Paul Kendall, he attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He received his B.A. in Religion in 1971. At Bishop Powell’s suggestion he attended the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, earning his M.Div. in 1976.
Bishop Charleston has had one of the most varied careers of any bishop in the church. He served as the Executive Director of Native American ministries in the Episcopal Church. He lived and worked on the reservations of North and South Dakota for the Dakota Leadership Program. He became a tenured professor in Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he taught on the graduate level for eight years. He served as a parish priest in both the Dakotas and Minnesota.
He was elected on the first ballot as the VIth Bishop of Alaska and lived in Fairbanks, Alaska with his family until his wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and they returned to the east coast. He then became the President and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School where he served for ten years. Most recently Bishop Charleston was Provost of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco where he assisted their congregation in a time of transition after their Dean retired from a 25-year tenure.
He has now returned to his home in Oklahoma to care for his parents and to be near his son, Nicholas, who lives in Durant and works as a Choctaw language teacher for the tribe. Bishop Charleston is married to Suzanne Charleston, an artist trained at the Museum School in Boston with her M.F.A. from the University of Minnesota. In July of this year they will celebrate their 32nd anniversary.
Bishop Charleston is recognized internationally as an advocate for indigenous people, a supporter of environmental care for the Earth, and a champion of reconciliation within the Anglican Communion. He is also well known as a preacher of the Good News of Jesus Christ andof God’s healing grace for all people.
Upcoming dates for Bishop Charleston:
- August 16 - becomes interim dean
- August 22 - first sermon at St. Paul's
- August 29 - first forum at St. Paul's
You can also read the Episcopal News Service article.
Posted on Thu, July 29, 2010