Retired Bishop Heistand Dies

Episcopal News Service. November 15, 1979 [79352]

HARRISBURG, Penn. -- The Rt. Rev. John Thomas Heistand, for 23 years Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Harrisburg, died near here Nov. 8 after a long illness. He was 84.

A memorial eucharist and burial office were celebrated Nov. 12 at the Cathedral Church of St. Stephen here where Bishop Heistand was dean at the time of his elevation to the episcopate. Taking part in the service were the present Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, the Rt. Rev. Dean T. Stevenson, and the bishop's two sons, the Rt. Rev. Joseph T. Heistand, Bishop Coadjutor of Arizona, and the Rev. Hobart H. Heistand of Springfield, Ill.

Bishop Heistand earned degrees from Columbia University and the General Theological Seminary and was ordained priest in 1922. He served parishes in Pennsylvania before being named dean of St. Stephen's in 1934. He became bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg (which was renamed Central Pennsylvania in 1971) in 1943 and served as bishop until his retirement in 1966.

He took over a diocese suffering from deprivations of war and the depression and undertook the task of raising clergy salaries and living conditions while encouraging congregations to meet their financial responsibilities. Through a series of regional meetings, and often unpopular but judicious church closings, he was able to consolidate the rural witness in the area and strengthen the church to the point where, by the end of his career, four new congregations had been established and five others had moved to acquire full-time ordained clergy.

He served until 1966 and was awarded honorary degrees from General and from Dickinson College for his work.

In addition to his sons, he is survived by his widow, Alta Hertzler Heistand and two daughters.