Fifty Years Ago | October 1968
short stories of events and times during the formation of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast collected by the Rev. S. Albert Kennington, Diocesan Registrar-Historiographer
In October, fifty years ago, Philip Menzie Duncan, II, was a 22 year old bachelor beginning his middler year in General Theological Seminary in New York City. In an interview recorded in 2001, he told the story of how he decided to attend GTS with some not-subtle guidance from his bishop who told him, “Now, I want to let you know that you’ve been accepted in three of the seminaries, and you’ve decided to go to this particular seminary. Of course, that’s entirely up to you, but any man (of course this was 1967, so it was all men) any man coming through my diocese who has been accepted at General Seminary will go there. Of course, you’ve also been accepted for a full scholarship there, and I will make up any additional monies. But if you decide to go to this other seminary, I know you’ll find the money somewhere to do it.”
He continued, “I think it took me about two and a half seconds to calm myself and say, 'You know, Bishop, I’ve always wanted to go to General Seminary.' That is where I went to seminary. I found going into New York - leaving Ohio and going back to New York - was really wonderful - a wonderful experience.
“My first year, like all of us, I was befuddled and bemused and somewhat lost, and I hated the city. It was big and dirty and ugly and a place you had to know how to get around. The second year, I really got to like it. The third I absolutely reveled in it and loved it, and then I left.”
He remembers that in this fifty years ago in October, Alabama’s Governor George Wallace, then a candidate for president of the United States, spoke to a packed house in Madison Square Garden just up the street from the seminary. He also remembers that he chose not to attend.
During his seminary field placement work in St. John’s Church, Yonkers, he met and worked with Kathlyn Cowie. A week after he graduated in 1970, he was ordained deacon; a week after this, he and Kathy married. He says that in that happy June, neither of them had a thought that 31 years later, he would become the third bishop of the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, which, of course, did not exist yet.