Diocese offers prayers for his recovery — though Spong rejects the efficacy of petitionary prayer.
The former Bishop of Newark, the Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, has suffered a stroke, the diocese reported on its Facebook page. Long a controversial figure, Bishop “Jack” Spong served as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark from 1979 to 2000, and is the author of a number of popular religious themed books propounding a progressive view on Christianity that rejected many of the creeds and teachings of the faith. The bishop was preparing to deliver a lecture in Marquette, Mich., on Saturday when he became ill. On 12 Sept 2016 the diocese released a statement on its Facebook page stating: “Many thanks to all of you who have been praying for Bishop Jack Spong and his family since we received the news that he suffered a stroke last Saturday morning. Bishop Beckwith is in contact with the Spong family, and reports that Bishop Spong is stable and talking, and that our prayers offer hope and help. Updates will be provided as they become available.” In his 1998 thesis “12 Points for Reform” Bishop Spong rejected the efficacy of petitionary prayer for those in need, writing: “Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.