First Black Female TEC Diocesan Bishop

From Bishop Lee: Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows Elected Bishop of Indianapolis

October 28, 2016

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

I am both delighted and devastated to announce to you that the Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, our director of networking, has just been elected bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis. Delighted because I believe with all my heart that Jennifer has been called both by God and the people she will lead to become a bishop of our church and devastated because, in a few short months, she will leave my staff. My consolation is that she will soon be my colleague in the House of Bishops, where her wise and faithful voice will help guide us for many years to come. I am especially happy that, when she is ordained, she will be the first black woman to become a bishop diocesan in the Episcopal Church.

Among the vows that bishops take when we are ordained to that office, we promise to encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts and ministries, to nourish them from the riches of God’s grace, to show compassion to the poor and strangers, and defend those who have no helper. I can hardly think of anyone whose gifts are more suited to this ministry, and I rejoice with the people of Indianapolis and the entire church at her election.

In the next few months, bishops and standing committees across the church will be asked to give their consent to Jennifer’s election, as required by the canons of the church. And on April 29, I hope that many of us from the Diocese of Chicago will travel to Indianapolis to celebrate with the people of that diocese and with Jennifer as she is ordained a bishop. Between now and then, Jennifer will spend some time with us wrapping up her work with the networking team and saying farewell as she, Harrison, and Timothy prepare to move to Indianapolis.

Please join me in praying for Jennifer and her family and for the people of Indianapolis in the coming days, and for all of us in the church who rejoicing with them.


The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee
Bishop of Chicago


What a great new start for The Episcopal Church of North America (TEC) as it elects its first female black diocesan bishop for the Diocese of  Indianapolis in the United States.

The capability of bishop-elect The Reverend Jennifer Baskerville is proclaimed here by here current diocesan, Bishop Geoffrey D. Lee of Chicago.

What I was especially drawn to was her own understanding of her new call, in these words:

“The Episcopal Church is where I found my relationship with Jesus some 30 years ago, “she said. “It teaches me that the world is filled with incredible beauty and unspeakable pain and that God is deeply in the midst of it all loving us fiercely. So each day, nourished by the sacraments and stories of our faith, the beauty of our liturgical tradition, the wide embrace of this Christian community, I learn over and over again how to live without fear.”

The words: “each day nourished by the sacraments” fill my heart with joy at the prospect of a Bishop in the Church whose love of the Sacraments of Christ is at the forefront of her focus for the mission. This denotes a Bishop intent on being nurtured by the Body and Blood Christ for her daily ministry.

The Rev. Baskerville-Burrows will be ordained and consecrated as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis on Saturday, April 29, 2017, 11 a.m., at Clowes Hall at Butler University.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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