John Seville Higgins was born in London England on April 14, 1904.He immigrated to the United States in 1923 and became a naturalized citizen in 1936. A graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, with both baccalaureate and master’s degrees. He entered Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston Illinois where he received a bachelor’s degree in divinity. He was ordained on November 1, 1931.
In 1948 Bishop Higgins was assigned rector of St. Martin’s Church in Providence. In 1952 he was elected Bishop Co-adjutor of Rhode Island and was consecrated in 1953. He became Episcopal diocesan Bishop of Rhode Island on January 1, 1955. He would serve Rhode Island’s Episcopalians in this capacity for the next seventeen years before retiring in 1972.
During his tenure, Bishop Higgins was active in the ecumenical movement. He was a leader in the formation of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches and was a member of the General Board of the National Council of Churches. Higgins was a member of the national Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission to identify areas of commonality between the two religions. Bishop Higgins was also an early advocate for fair-housing legislation in Rhode Island and organized the Episcopal Charities Appeal Fund. While advocating interdenominational cooperation and fair housing, he strongly opposed the Vietnam war and gambling. A man of his times, in retirement he opposed the ordination of women and homosexuals and opposed same-sex marriage.
Bishop Higgins was the author of several books and pamphlets including: The General Thanksgiving (1953), The Hope of Glory (1953) and One Faith and Fellowship: The Missionary Story of the Anglican Communion (1958).
Bishop Higgins died on December 28, 1992 at the age of age eighty-eight. He was married to Marion (Larch) Higgins and was survived by her and their two children.
Russell J. DeSimone