Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows was elected last Friday as the Diocese of Indianapolis.

The Episcopal Church just elected its first female bishop of African-American descent. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows was elected last Friday as the Diocese of Indianapolis. The Episcopal Church, which is home to almost two million members, has never had an African-American woman serve as diocesan head.

Rev. Burrows will be replacing Bishop Catherine M. Waynick, who will be retiring on April 29, 2017 as part of the consecration ceremony.

The Reverend isn’t exactly the first black female to serve as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. However, she is the first to actually hold the title of bishop. African-American women who served before were referred to as “suffragan bishops,” a title used for those reporting to the actual diocesan bishop.

The presiding bishop, Michael Curry, is the first African-American man to serve in his position.

Rev. Burrows is an alumnus of Cornell University, the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and Smith College. She is considered to be an expert on the topic of historic preservation and is known to actively engage in discussions regarding social justice, racial reconciliation, and gun violence etc.

Rev. Burrows presently functions as the director of networking for Episcopal Church’s Chicago Diocese. In this role, she has been responsible for strengthening networks and partnerships aimed at church revitalization.

In her statement, the reverend said she had completed 19 years as an ordained minister, with the previous 5 years being dedicated towards restructuring the Chicago Diocese. The reverend also spoke of her role in supporting communities and bringing together God’s people despite various differences. She believes her experiences in this regard will allow her to carry on her role as the bishop for the Indianapolis Diocese.

Rev. Burrows, hails from New York, was ordained for ministry by the Diocese of Central New York. Her experience at the World Trade Center on the morning of the 9/11 attacks became a defining moment for her. While seeking for shelter along with other survivors, she claims that her perspective of faith over fear was renewed, putting her onto her current path.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter