First black female diocesan bishop elected in Episcopal Church
11/4/2016, 6:45 p.m.
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 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. Bishop Baskerville-Burrows will become the first African-American woman to lead a diocese, said Jim Naughton, a spokesman for the Diocese of Chicago.
Bishop Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, with 1.9 million members, is the denomination’s first African-American man to hold that position.
Bishop 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 news 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. One of the four is Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, who was assigned as leader of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church on Sept. 1. Her term of office is four years.