The Rt. Rev. Vincent King Pettit, 81, retired Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of New Jersey, lost his battle with cancer and died on March 10, 2006.
Pettit served as bishop suffragan from January 1984 to September 1990. His service to the church had a lasting impact on the way Episcopalians worship. He chaired the Standing Liturgical Commission during the years of work that resulted in the 1979 revision of the Book of Common Prayer.
“The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey has lost a loving brother,” said New Jersey Bishop George Councell. “His leadership as a bishop, his service to the church, and his warm and dedicated manner to all will be greatly missed.”
A son of New Jersey, Pettit was born on August 31, 1924. He graduated from Toms River High School in 1942 and then enlisted in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He served with the Marines in World War II in the Pacific arena. He graduated from Rutgers University in 1950 and from Philadelphia Divinity School in 1958. He was ordained a priest in 1958.
Pettit believed in the importance of education, and continued a life-long learning process, resulting in additional master’s degrees from Temple University in Philadelphia and New York Theological Seminary in New York City, and an honorary doctorate from the General Theological Seminary, New York City.
As a priest, Pettit served in both rural and suburban churches throughout the Diocese of New Jersey. He was vicar at All Saints Episcopal Church in Wenonah and St. Barnabas in Mantua, and rector at St. George’s in Pennsville, St. Mary’s in Keyport, Trinity Church in Cranford, and Christ Church in Toms River. Pettit’s father, John Mervin, previously served as rector of Christ Church, and his daughter, Joan M. P. Anders, is now the rector.
Pettit served on various diocesan committees including the Standing Committee and the Liturgical Commission. He was the youth director of the diocese for many years. As a priest he was twice elected as deputy and once as an alternate deputy to the General Convention.
As a bishop he served the diocese through visitations, confirming teens and adults. He led many diocesan initiatives including youth work and ministry development, and he focused diocesan mission churches. Pettit served on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church.
Following his retirement from the diocese, he served as the interim dean of the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, New York, and then as assisting bishop for the Diocese of Albany for five years. He returned to his home state and served the Diocese of New Jersey for another ten years.
In retirement he pursued his love of piano, computers, photography and gardening, becoming a certified Master Gardener through the Rutgers University Extension Program. As a resident of Seabrook Village in Tinton Falls, Pettit volunteered in the pastoral counseling department and in the television production studio as cameraman, interviewer and director.
He is survived by Virginia, his wife of 56 years this June; a daughter, the Rev. Joan M.P. Anders of Toms River; a daughter Ann Pettit (Ned Nicolai) of Geneva, New York; and nine grandchildren. His son, Vincent Jr., predeceased him. He is survived by a brother, Edward of Endicott, New York. His brother John, Jr., predeceased him.
Visitation will be held at Christ Church, Toms River, New Jersey, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. March 17. The Burial Office and Requiem Eucharist will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on March 18 at Trinity Cathedral, in Trenton, New Jersey with Bishop Councell presiding. Pettit’s ashes will be interred in the Christ Church Memorial Garden in Toms River March 19 following the 10:15 a. m. service.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Memorial Garden Fund of Christ Church, 415 Washington Street, Toms River, New Jersey, 08753-6742.