About the House of Studies

"I do not know what reason our Church has to exist, except it be, on the one hand, that she is the American branch of the Catholic Church, and on the other that, because she is so, she can do what no other Christian body can accomplish." Blessed James DeKoven, "The Mission of the Church of God", preached at Convocation in Milwaukee, April 19, 1876

Founded on the 22nd of March 2014, being the 135th anniversary of his death, the James DeKoven House of Studies will prepare individuals for both lay and ordained ministries in the Anglican tradition.  A curriculum is offered that leads to a Certificate of Sacred Theology (Sacrae Theologiae Certificatum, S.T.C.).  

Anyone with a high school diploma may apply.  Some students will be in college, while others will have already received their Bachelor's degree.  Still others will already have advanced degrees (M.A., M.D., Ph.D.) but desire a master-level Anglican theological education without participating in a residential program.

In addition, courses and seminars will also be developed for evangelism, church planting, acolyte training and other ministries integral to parish life, including Sunday School and youth ministry curriculums, devotional/spiritual programs and retreats.

The Certificate of Sacred Theology program is drawn from well-established programs and institutions, with trained and experienced faculty in all areas. The House of Studies is for the benefit of our Diocese and the wider Church.  The future training of our clergy and laity is absolutely essential for the growth and maintenance of this Diocese and the wider Church of which we are a part.  The James DeKoven House of Studies will attempt to begin a pathway which will lead to the further education and development of vocations, both lay and ordained.

The James DeKoven House of Studies is a ministry of the Diocese of Mid-America, Anglican Province of America.


James DeKoven was born on September 19, 1831 in Middletown, Connecticut, the ninth of ten children.  His father, a banker who died in 1840, was of German origin, while his mother could trace her English ancestry to John Winthrop.  He grew up in Brooklyn Heights, New York and displayed intellectual prowess at an early age.  He was ordained to the priesthood in 1855, and promptly became a professor of Church history at Nashotah House, a seminary of the Episcopal Church in Wisconsin.  In 1859 he became Warden of Racine College, an Episcopal college in Racine, Wisconsin.  Nashotah House was from its inception dedicated to an increased emphasis on the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and on the use of ritual practices that recognized and honored that presence.  This met opposition from other Christians who were suspicious (1) of anything that suggested Roman Catholicism, (2) of anything that seemed fancy and pretentious, as opposed to the plain, blunt, simplicity that was considered to be an American virtue as well as a virtue of the New Testament Church, and (3) of anything that varied from the practices they had become used to as children. 

In the General Conventions of 1871 and 1874, DeKoven became the chief spokesman for the "ritualists," defending the use of candles, incense, bowing and kneeling, and the like.  He reminded his hearers of the numerous assertions by prominent Anglican theologians who had taught, and the ecclesiastical courts which when the question came up had ruled, that it is Anglican belief, shared not only with Romans but with the Eastern Orthodox, that the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament is a real and objective presence.  However, he was eloquent and firm in saying: "The gestures and practices by which we recognize the presence of Christ do not matter. Only Christ matters." 

In 1874 he was elected Bishop of Wisconsin, and in 1875 Bishop of Illinois, but because he was "controversial" he failed both times to have his election ratified by a majority of Bishops and a majority of Standing Committees of Dioceses, as required by canon law. 

In his sermon entitled "The Gates of the Invisible", he stated, "Brethren, I preach Christ unto you today.  He has been manifested to take away our sins.  He was born, He lived, upon the Cross of Calvary He died for all: He conquered death, He rose again, He ascended into heaven, He lives for evermore.  Nor in heaven alone - He lives on earth as well.  He is in His Church; it is His Body.  He speaks in His priests; He is with them all the day.  He is in His Eucharists; they are His Body and Blood.  The Lord Jesus Christ, whom the Magdalen touched, and St. John loved, and St. Peter denied, and Pilate crucified, and Roman soldiers spat upon, our Own, our God, is with us now." (Ash Wednesday, 1878)

At the General Convention of 1877, only two deputies supported DeKoven's call, on behalf of the Diocese of Wisconsin, for a Consitutional Commission to strike the words "Protestant Episcopal" as the legal title of the Church.  At a diocesan council meeting the following year, he defended the Cathedral movement and Bishop Welles, who had championed the "See principle" in Wisconsin.  The controversy was such that DeKoven confided in his superior, "Bishop, I did not close my eyes last night. This strain and worry is more that I am able to bear.  I must go home.  I do not believe that I shall be able to come to council again."

He died at his college in Racine, Wisconsin, on 22 March 1879.  In 1892 Frederic Cook Morehouse called him "the greatest product of the American Church during the century."

For more information about the James DeKoven House of Studies, either as a student or potential faculty member, please contact Bp. Robert Giffin