TAP History: Who is Bishop Marmion?

The Impact of Bishop Marmion

William H. Marmion had a vision to unite the diocese. His legacy lives on today through our Bishop Marmion Head Start Center. 

An Advocate for Social Justice

Bishop Marmion

As bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia from 1954 to 1979, Bishop Marmion joined the civil rights movement. Specifically, he had hopes of integrating the Episcopal Church. “He was very proactive in addressing the racism that had infected at least the denomination of the Episcopal Church,” says Ted Edlich, a friend of Bishop Marmion and former president of TAP. “He was a great guy.”

Bishop Marmion was a loyal supporter of a number of social movements. He was particularly passionate about the equal treatment of youth in the diocese and the right to an education, no matter one’s skin color. While many resisted the desegregation of Virginia’s public schools, Bishop Marmion embraced the change. He attempted to create an integrated youth center and conference for young Episcopalians. However, his efforts caused division among his diocese, forcing his work to be put on pause.

Bridging the Divide

After many years and the bishop’s patient persistence, the division was finally overcome. The integrated youth center opened, and the diocese hosted the youth conference. By the time of Bishop Marmion’s retirement in 1979, his dream of integrating the churches of the diocese had come true.

In fact, a building that housed one of the diocese’s Black congregations is now a TAP Head Start center. It was named the Bishop Marmion Head Start Center in honor of his inspirational fight for the integration of the Episcopal Church and equal treatment of all youth.

Small white building with blue doors

A Proud History

The Head Start center isn’t Bishop Marmion’s only connection to TAP. He also helped to create a training program for TAP employees. According to Ted, the program helped staff analyze how they “authentically dealt with each other,” especially when it came to social relationships and feelings toward each other. The training module was such a success that it gained national recognition.

TAP is proud to have such a close connection to Bishop Marmion, whose insight and passion made a lasting impact on our community. A plaque inside the Bishop Marmion Head Start Center features a quote from Presiding Bishop John Hines at the time of Bishop Marmion’s retirement: “His Christian charities outlived his severest critics.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.