Cleland Kinloch Nelson

Third Bishop of Georgia, 1892-1907


Cleland Kinloch Nelson was born in 1852. He served as rector of Church of the Nativity in South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania at the time of his election. He was consecrated as Bishop on February 24, 1892 in St. Lukes’ Church, Atlanta. Nelson served as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia until its split into two dioceses in 1907 when he became the first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.

As Bishop, Nelson challenged the Diocese of Georgia to grow and from 1893–1906, the diocese went from 88 missions to 108 missions with the 6,292 communicants of 1893 swelling to 9,229 by 1906. During that same time period, sixty-two church buildings were built. The Diocese of Atlanta (northwestern Georgia) was set apart from the Diocese of Georgia in 1907 with Nelson serving as its first Bishop. At the time of the separation, the newly divided Diocese of Georgia consisted of 24 churches with the Diocese of Atlanta being created with 28 churches and missions. The Diocese of Georgia continued with the episcopacy of its fourth bishop, Frederick Focke Reese.

He died February 12, 1917 at the age of 65. He had served as a bishop for 25 years.