Bishop Spong ‘doing better’ after stroke, Morristown rector says

Bishop John Shelby Spong speaks on Good Friday 2016 at St. Peter's. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Bishop John Shelby Spong speaks on Good Friday 2016 at St. Peter's. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Bishop John Shelby Spong reflects on the Gospel of Matthew on Good Friday 2016 at St. Peter's in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Bishop John Shelby Spong reflects on the Gospel of Matthew on Good Friday 2016 at St. Peter’s in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

By Kevin Coughlin

John Shelby Spong, the prolific author and retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, is “doing better” after being felled by a stroke over the weekend, according to Rector Janet Broderick of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown.

The audience sings "Happy Birthday" to Bishop John Shelby Spong. Sharon Sheridan photo
St. Peter’s parishioners sing “Happy Birthday” to Bishop John Shelby Spong in 2011. Sharon Sheridan photo

“I have been in touch with Christine Spong [the bishop’s wife] and even listened to Jack’s voice on the cell phone. He is doing better and will be returning to New Jersey as soon as he can travel comfortably. This is good news indeed,” Broderick said Monday in a message to parishioners.

Bishop Spong, 85, had the stroke on Saturday before a speaking engagement in Marquette, MI, according to the diocese.  He is hospitalized in guarded condition.

The liberal Christian theologian celebrated his 40th anniversary as a bishop in June at St. Peter’s, where he is a frequent lecturer and guest preacher.

He has authored more than 20 books, including Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy and Eternal Life: A New Vision, and he has appeared on 60 Minutes, The Today Show and Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, among other national TV programs.

Marie Pfeifer contributed to this report.


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  1. Hello Jack, I am Cynthia Archer Montague.
    You married me and my husband Peter 43 yrs. ago this Feruary 9th at St. Paul’s church in Richmond , Va.. We taught Sunday school at St Paul’s, thereafter. We attended your fabulous adult studies on “Christ and his Desiples”, you made them all come to life in such a wonderful way that we, for the 1st time, could picture them as real, viable people.
    I would give anything to have a conversation with you about my own beliefs about the bible and other points of Christianity. I read that you had a stroke, but pray that you are back to your old self, a wonderful, gregarious person. Much love to you and your family. Very fondly, Cindy and Peter Montague

  2. So happy you are doing well. I just learned your
    True version of the Christian story. I was taught by Thomas Merton while a monk at Gethsemani in the 50′ s. He would have agreed with much of your interpretation. Thank you so much for all the light you have given to all of us.

    Randy De Trinis

  3. Jack, you are the most authentic Christian I know in that you seem to have a glimpse of what the earliest followers of Jesus experienced uncorrupted by ensuing Hellenistic dogma.

  4. Our thoughts and “Honest Prayers” are with Bishop Spong and his family. Truly a giant of the modern Christian era. Thank you very much for helping me understand “Christpower” . An enormous positive influence in my life.

    With heartfelt thanks,

    Steven Black

  5. Wishing you a quick recovery. You have opened my mind to real Christianity. Thank you for the
    weekly essay. Love, Lydia Mathes

  6. I know who I am as a christian thanks to you, Bishop Spong. Please have many more productive years.

    With much love,

    Don Basenberg