News Revelations

Episcopal Church elects first black woman diocesan bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis elected Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows as the first black, female diocesan bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church. Photo courtesy of Charlie Simokaitis
The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis elected Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows as the first black, female diocesan bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church. Photo courtesy of Charlie Simokaitis

The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis elected Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows as the first black, female diocesan bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church. Photo courtesy of Charlie Simokaitis

(RNS) The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis has elected the first black, female diocesan bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, director of networking in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, was elected on the second ballot during a diocesan convention held at Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis on Friday (Oct. 28).

While she is not the first black female bishop in the Episcopal Church, those who preceded her held the title of “suffragan bishop,” a subordinate to the diocesan bishop. Baskerville-Burrows will become the first African-American woman to lead a diocese, said Jim Naughton, a spokesman for the Diocese of Chicago.

Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, with 1.9 million members, is the denomination’s first African-American man to hold that position.

Baskerville-Burrows is a graduate of Smith College, Cornell University, and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. She has expertise in historic preservation and a passion for issues including gun violence, social justice, and racial reconciliation, according to a diocesan press release.

African-American women are making leadership strides in other historically white Protestant denominations as well. Recently, the United Methodist Church elected four African-American women as bishops.

Baskerville-Burrows will be consecrated on April 29, 2017.

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Yonat Shimron

Yonat Shimron is an RNS National Reporter and Senior Editor.

60 Comments

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  • Society is changing and most of the churches will change or be left behind regardless of what the Bible says. It was written by Bronze Age misogynists who were ignorant of science and medicine. The OT and NT both were OK with slavery but society evolved and no Christian will say it’s OK even though God did. He was wrong.

  • Actually, it was prophesied many many years ago that this would happen – so, I guess, your desires have very little to do with it.
    Sorry.
    1 Timothy 4:1 -New International Version
    The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

  • Regardless of society changing who are you and where do you get the authority to tell Christians the bible that our faith is solely based on is not applicable? Just to catch you up on truth and not your ridiculous and unfounded OPINION Christians bleieve in science and medicine but not your stupid joke of a pseudo science that’s based on assumption and conjecture and can never be defined as a true and testable science.

  • As for you slavery claim let me again clue ypu in on actual facts.

    1.) Christians freed the slaves here and in England

    2.) Christians ran the underground railroad and put their own lives in danger.

    3.) In your newly created immoral secular world the sex slave and slavery is a booming business.

    So please take you arrogant accusatory attitude somewhere where fools like you gather and build up puffed up egos.

  • Dear RNS- Did you REALLY have to insert “Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, with 1.9 million members, is the denomination’s first African-American man to hold that position.”? If you find it necessary to note that, it is more appropriate at the end of the article. It appears women can not break the ceiling without reference to a man that has come before them.

  • No we’re not, but that can’t be the basis for setting aside specific instructions from an Apostle which are included in the scripture. However, as the question is not one fundamental to the doctrine of salvation, it is certainly one that can be addressed within the councils of the Church. While I, based on the scriptures Sandi cited above, tend to resist the idea of female bishops, I’m not going to condemn or charge churches that do. Given the failures on the part of many bishops who are males, it hardly seems a crime against the faith to anoint a female bishop. There are far more troubling and pressing matters of faith to address.

  • You fail to appreciate the context in which slavery was tolerated in the bible. In fact, the bible compelled humane and reasonable treatment of one’s slaves, to the point of treating them as members of the immediate household and family. Such was not the case among the pagan peoples among whom the Hebrews dwelt, nor those of the society in which the Church arose, except in selected instances. The regular denigration of the Bronze age on these pages surprises me, the risks and sufferings of the Atomic Age do not appear more .amenable to me by comparison.

  • Bill, I have no idea what you are referring to in the latter part of your post. What psuedo science are you referring to?

  • No I understand it quite well. I spent many years immersed in the bible and history. Slaves in the OT were spoils of war and received more humane treatment than our slaves. The OT didn’t encourage slavery, it tolerated it. It wa never condemned by god. So therefore it wasn’t wrong. That was used by some churches and people to justify it. Other christians who, contrary to god, said it was wrong and led the fight to abolish it. That is my point: it rejected the bible’s viewpoint and no christian in our society supports it. The same is happening with women in the church. Some churches are ignoring Paul’s edicts. How many women today, if praying in front of men, cover their heads as direct by Paul?

  • You are letting your emotions overshadow reason. Read my recent post on slavery. I didn’t create any immoral secular world, Bill. Slavery has always existed, independent of religion.

  • Yes and here you are blaming my God for allowing it when you just admitted it’s a man made atrocity. So if as you atheist claim God doesn’t exist then the slavery issue is truly on your shoulders.

  • The religion of “evolution” and the religion of “climate change” both that don’t fit the definition of “science” or “empirical evidence”. You should quit before you embarrass yourself any farther because the next answer will prove you a fool.

  • You said : Given the failures on the part of many bishops who are males, it hardly
    seems a crime against the faith to anoint a female bishop. But you’re just as guilty in fact more guilty as those you rebuke because you are justifying sin with another sin. You’re kind of assumptions are indeed one of main problems of why many churches are apostate including the one in the article.

  • Perhaps you can quote in the bible where it was only meant for the first century or are you adding you opinion to God’s word?

    1 Timothy 2:12
    I permit not a woman to teach, neither to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

    1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the Churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak: but they ought to be subject, as also the Law saith.
    35 And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the Church.

  • Who among us is without sin? The carping back and forth that you have engaged in here with your opponents could also easily be classified into the category of sin, I do not criticize your zeal, but your tone is rather demeaning of your opponents, which fails to reflect Christian charity. Though I grant, on this website there are only a handful on either side whose record is impeccable in that regard. Mine is not. My point is that church administration in the context of this case is less important many much more critical issues the church is facing today. I am a fairly rock ribbed conservative Christian, but the question of female bishops is not where I’m going to spend my spiritual ammunition. You are welcome to that engagement if you’re called to it.

  • Bill, you really should keep your discussions civil and not get petsonal. Challenge and critcize ideas, not people. I see how you attack people from your other posts.
    Science is a process, the same throughout all fields. The only theories fundamentalists attack are evolution and climate change. I can understand that evolution does not agree with your religion. I don’t understand why fundamentalists attack climate change. Anyway, your challenge is not based on any science you can present that contradicts it. You have none. It is wrong because your religion says it is. Science is based on evidence and forms theories to explain it. The theories must be testable and survive every test. If not it must be corrected or discarded. It corrects itself over time. That is why bad science, bad data or fraud will be discovered. If evolution or global warming are wrong, it will be discovered. Until then the theories are accepted.

  • Your god did not see fit to condemn it nor did Jesus or Paul. In fact, he allowed the Israelites to make slaves of captured enemies. The spoils of war. So slavery was tolerated in America by southerners who used the bible to justify it. It was also abolished when other christians said it was evil.

    Of course slavery is perpetrated by man. It is not on my shoulders because I condemn and won’t practice it. (Unfortunately some of my Baptist ancestors in South Carolina may have.)

  • And a woman should be silent in church, not wear jewelry cover her hair and be veiled. Priests can marry but must also be celibate. Oh, and the ONLY reason for divorce is adultery and the adulterer can not marry again.

  • There is no contest about “veiled” – it’s a head covering and if there is a contention, they don’t do such.

  • When I was young women all wore hats to church with thin veils. But times have changed and that tradition has fallen off. But it used to be the norm

  • Actually, the Bible states: English Standard Version

    If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God. 1 Corinthians 11:16

  • Actually, my knowledge of God’s Word is pretty good, but certainly not perfect. Nor, I suspect is yours. I make no attempt to compromise God’s Word, I merely declare that I’m not going to second guess a practice in a denomination that I’m am not a member of, that is for the leadership of that fellowship system. I have the greatest respect for the teachings and admonitions of St. Paul, but he also knew when to appraise a situation and chose his battles carefully. At the same time there is no church on earth that functions perfectly in practice or doctrine. Any contention between you and I as sincerely committed bible believers only serves the interest of the Enemy and unbelievers in this forum. If your are prepared to cast me into outer darkness on the basis of what in my opinion is not a critical issue, then cast away insofar as you have the spiritual authority to do so. In God’s Peace.

  • Not quite sure how this fits. Many Christians are some of the most contentious people I know. The Baptists, Catholics, Evangelicals, Lutherans, Methodists Presbyterians, and the 1900+ other sects all think theirs is the true way to heaven.

  • They are right. The way o have is a post-mortem fight to the death. The different sects will fight it out in the semi-glorified bodies and only the survivors will be let in to heaven to live in glory while the defeated are thrown into the pits of hell. God take no losers.

  • Yes, a viscous life in hell with all the people who disagree with you. But you will be rewarded and look down with glee as those who disagreed with you roast in hell. I agree with you fully. Let them be damned.

  • Some Christians. fter they got around to turning slavery into a chattel/cattle business. And oh, were they Christians who kept the slave sin the south nad went to war to defend their ownership of slaves and were they Christians who in the 1900’s in Christain USA went after church and took their kiddies to watch black men be cooked and hanged. Are are those good Chrstian men in the USa wjo say that return to slavery will be best for everyone?

  • You are totally ignorant of what “empirical science” means. It maans an accumulation of proven observations that can be used for analysis, coherent theory and prediction. As more is added to the accumulation certain ideas can be amemded since science is not religious dogma and does not encourage a dogmatic approach to thought or discovery. As science progressed it has developed more an more tools of investigation, observation, and proof. Evolution is now supported by DNA analysis, the most advanced empiricla tool to date. You just use words arbitarily and ignorantly.

  • What is this particular comment apropos to, Lee Anne? Aren’t we instructed to…”earnestly contend for the faith”…?(Jude 3) So…what exactly is the problem? ?

  • You should REALLY do some deep reflecting and mulling on Luke 6:37 here,Bill…throwing out Scriptures sans context is the worse type of hermeneutics, and you need to engage yourself in some serious study. You’ve judged other Christians apostates and implied that your Biblical knowledge is in some sense superior to others. When we engage in conversations with our fellow Christians, we should ALWAYS be patient, understanding, and exercise Godly wisdom. We are NOT enemies to each other are we? Even if you believe someone in error, you must use loving, patient wisdom and rightly divide the Word of Truth, patiently working through the situation, and ALWAYS maintaining love and respect for each other. Try to hold fire, and seek common ground with your brothers and sisters in the Lord, Brother Bill.( And leave who is presumably”apostate” to the Holy Spirit’s assessment, please. True apostasy will reveals itself in due time; my disagreeing with any given human being doesn’t render me an apostate; disagreeing with Almighty God does that.)—So…I hope you will mull and reflect on what I have said to you here, Brother Bill. We all are supposed to be brothers and sisters in Christ, and I think that if we grab hold of my go-to,every day passage we will do well: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths”(Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV)–So…be at peace, Brother Bill, and always walk in Love!?—Pray for all.

  • I don’t mind being rebuked. It’s ideas we are discussing. We should be civil with each other and insult each other. In other words, play nice.

  • I have no control over what my ancestors did nor do I share any blame. I have always condemned slavery and always will. I have no hypocrisy since I practice what I preach. Hypocrisy is to say one thing but do or condone it’s opposite.

  • In Orthodox churches men who were married before being ordained are not celibate. The only requirement is that they abstain from conjugal relations the night before celebrating the Divine Liturgy. There is no canon in either East or West that require married priests to be celibate. There are canons that require priests in the Roman Catholic Church Latin Rite of course to be celibate and therefore cannot marry but even here there are exceptions made for former Anglican and or Protestant clergy who are married and in Eastern Rite Roman Catholic Churches men again like their Orthodox counterparts may marry before ordination. However in both Churches only celibate men may become bishops.

  • Wow…I am truly sorry that all I said seems to have went right over your head, Brother Bill. Your obsession with being both right in your own eyes AND unbiblically judgemental is truly sad.Oh, well…I’ll say no more here, and you will be in my prayers. You need to be free from yourself, my friend.Speaking only for myself, I didn’t get the memo that Almighty God had relinquished His Job to YOU. PEACE IN CHRIST, ALWAYS!! ☺–[No reply necessary,thanks.]

  • Gee, Bill. To refute your claims about christianity and the bible and to show that christians today prove that god and the bible were wrong about slavery.

  • You called him a fool. You can’t get personal. Be civil and put on the christ-like personality.

  • Acts 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God,[e] which he obtained with his own blood.[f] 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

  • I will reply to you, because even in your zeal you have a gentleness of spirit that is utterly lacking on Bill’s part. He reminds me of the Pharisees’, dogmatically correct, but cold, self righteous, and judgmental. At no point did I deny Paul’s admonitions to Timothy, I merely asserted that there are more critical spiritual battles to fight than the question of the administration within the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church faces far greater challenges and difficulties biblically than Church administration, though you might reasonably argue that one informs the other. Even as I acknowledged bill’s right to his perspective and wished him well, his only and typical response was superior and unkind, not a sound or biblical response, so I will engage with him no more. His reference to 1 Cor. 6:1-11 is legitimate, but he seems to have appointed himself sole arbiter of such questions. I am fully prepared to acknowledge sin and error on my part within the context of my life as a believer, for which I go before God to repent and seek guidance every day. If I’m allowed to quote Jesus, I would offer the difficulties inherent when one, “swallows a camel while straining out a gnat.” Bill does not take related contextual texts and compare and contrast them with one another, his assertion of his authority to judge other believers fails to meet biblical standards in my opinion.

  • The problem is that mpst pick and chose what they want to believe. And they follow the teachings of Paul, not Christ. They are not Christians, they are Paulians.

  • I appreciate his zeal, what I don’t appreciate is his superior and unreflective attitude. Even as Christians we need to be careful how we pick our battles and frame our language. He refers to the Episcopalian Church as apostate, not by name, but by implication. I tend to agree on the whole, yet at the same time I’m sure there are genuine believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who are still members of that Church. I don’t endorse the notion of female bishops, nor female clergy as a rule, but I’ve observed some very conservative churches who hold steadily to the affirmation of Jesus as Lord who have allowed female clergy. Judgments about the Church administration of sects which I am not a member, I leave to its members and God. On questions of moral doctrine I’m willing to state my position clearly and unflinchingly. For example, those who practice and affirm homosexuality as consistent with the bible are clearly in error, but I would rather dialogue kindly with them, than shake my fist at them. I’m mindful of 1st Cor. Chapter 13. As to abortion, it clearly mimics the child sacrifice practices of the ancient pagan world and should be returned to its proper place outside the law, but I’m not going to personally attack those who believe otherwise, I will contend with them as rationally and compassionately as I’m able…I will sometimes fail at that. Within the Church, divorce should never happen, with two provisos, in the case of one partner’s adultery, though I would pray and hope for reconciliation; also a spouse should be able to separate at least when their life is in danger. I do not claim to know the bible perfectly, nor practice my Christianity perfectly, but I resent being told I “know little or nothing about God’s Word…” when I have studied it carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully for almost 40 years. If Bill is called, as I told him, to fight the battle of proper Church administration, more power to him, that is not the area of spiritual conflict where I feel led by God, and for this Bill condemns me. No one wins in such conflicts between people who hold the bible inviolate, and endeavor to walk by its precepts.

  • Actually, we are not that far apart.
    Trust me though, Bill is a very godly man whom I have known for years.

    I’m coming of the opinion that on these “blogs”, we need to push Biblical truths, no matter what the subject – if we’re aware of them. We absolutely agree on the three you discussed and if we don’t make the truth known, then unbelievers will never learn the truth.
    Honestly, I was shocked when I first came to this blog. For using the term, “religious”, the responses were not Christian whatsoever and someone looking for the truth would not find it here.
    Since, I have met wonderful people who work very hard to make the Lord’s word known and I’m proud of all of you. I think there is much more Christianity here than when I first encountered the blog and some really, really smart people who know their stuff. I’ve learned things on this blog and that pleases me greatly.
    Anyway, just wanted to drop my 2 cents in here. Blessings.

  • I appreciate both your zeal and your spirit. At the same time, I’ve learned since coming to this site that tempering my remarks to the extent that I do not compromise biblical truths while extending a compassionate spirit to those with whom I disagree is more effective for a continuing dialogue. Obviously some people respond in a way which makes a coherent and useful discussion nearly impossible. This occurs on both sides. On the other hand, I wish those who are adamantly non-religious would make their case elsewhere. At the same time, I’ve tried to point out to atheists that atheism is in fact a form of religion, if not spiritual. Blessings to you as well.

  • Barbara Harris was the first woman Bishop in the Episcopal Church in America, She served as the Suffragan Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of MASS. I was present with nearly 10,000 people at the Consecration

  • The first time I heard for. Well, that is amazing. Check my new stuff where it come from. This is the new fake ultrasound design from fakeababy. The funniest stuff ever. Best for your gags.

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