A Genealogy of the Barnum, Barnam and Barnham Family

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A One-Name Study for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname



Notes for John Bowen COBURN


From The New York Times, 15 August 2009: The Rev. John B. Coburn, a former bishop of Massachusetts who was for decades a nationally prominent leader of the Episcopal Church, died on Aug. 8 at his home in Bedford, Mass. He was 94. Mr. Coburn was the 13th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, serving from 1976 till his retirement in 1986. He was previously the rector of St. James' Church, at Madison Avenue and 71st Street in New York City. Widely regarded as a forward-looking yet conciliatory leader, Mr. Coburn helped shepherd the Episcopal Church in the United States through some of the most divisive issues of the 1960s and afterward. From 1967 to 1976, he was president of the Episcopal House of Deputies, one-half of the bicameral legislature that is the church's governing body. (The legislature, or General Convention, also includes the House of Bishops.) During Mr. Coburn's tenure as president, the church adopted a new Book of Common Prayer. It also began ordaining women, unofficially in 1974, and formally two years later. Mr. Coburn was a former dean of the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Mass., a position he held from 1957 to 1968. (The school is now known as the Episcopal Divinity School.) He was a founder of the Boston Theological Institute, a consortium of Protestant and Roman Catholic seminaries, and helped found the Chapel of St. James the Fisherman in Wellfleet, Mass. John Bowen Coburn was born on Sept. 27, 1914, in Danbury, Conn. In 1931, he graduated from the Wooster School, an independent Episcopal school in Danbury founded by his father, the Rev. Aaron C. Coburn. At Princeton, the younger Mr. Coburn played varsity lacrosse and earned a bachelor's degree in politics in 1936. He spent the next three years in Istanbul, where he taught biology at Robert College, an American institution there. After earning a master's of divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1942, Mr. Coburn worked as an assistant minister at Grace Church, at Broadway and 10th Street in Manhattan. Commissioned as a Navy chaplain in 1944, he served on an attack transport in the Pacific. At the war's end, Mr. Coburn became rector of Grace Church in Amherst, Mass. In that capacity, he also served as the chaplain of Amherst College, where he founded and coached the lacrosse team. From 1953 to 1957, he was the dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Newark. Mr. Coburn held the rectorship of St. James' Church from 1969 to 1976. There, he officiated at many highly visible public events, among them the funeral of Thomas E. Dewey, the former governor of New York, in 1971. Mr. Coburn's wife, the former Ruth Alvord Barnum, whom he married in 1941, died in 2002. Besides his son, Michael, also an Episcopal priest, Mr. Coburn is survived by three other children, Thomas, Judith Coburn Klein and Sarah Coburn Borgeson; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Another daughter, Cynthia Anne, died in 1956.
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