First African-American woman to lead an Episcopal diocese. After a grand liturgy on April 29, the Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows has become the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis. Baskerville-Burrows, left, succeeded Indianapolis’ 10th bishop, Catherine Waynick, who, 20 years ago, became the fourth woman to lead an Episcopal Church diocese. This is the first time in the Church’s history that a woman has succeeded another woman in the episcopate.
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.