Thinking Anglicans

Bishop of Indianapolis: Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows elected

Corrected Monday morning

The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis issued this press release on 28 October:

The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows was elected 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis on the second ballot on Friday, October 28, at Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis. The election culminated a nearly two-year discernment and search process by the diocese at the 179th Diocesan Convention. The Right Reverend Catherine M. Waynick plans to retire in the Spring of 2017.

The Rev. Baskerville-Burrows currently serves as Director of Networking for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, nourishing partnerships and connections for church revitalization.

“In 19 years of ordained ministry, and especially in the past five helping to oversee and restructure the Diocese of Chicago, I’ve supported communities of transformation, communicated a vision of hope and gathered and networked God’s people across distance and difference,” the Rev. Baskerville-Burrows said. “I believe these experiences have prepared me to lead and serve in the particular place that is the Diocese of Indianapolis.”

She is from New York, ordained by the Diocese of Central New York, and 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 and class reconciliation. She also maintains a strong focus in guiding others through the practice of spiritual direction.

One of the defining experiences of her ministry came when she found herself near the World Trade Center the morning of September 11, 2001. In the midst of a fearful situation, her own faith and the faith of others who sought shelter alongside her gave her a renewed perspective of faith vanquishing fear.

“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 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.

A vast amount of information about the process of this election, including the profile of the diocese, and information about all the candidates, can be found here.

As Episcopal Café notes:

…Pending consents, she will become the first black, female diocesan bishop in the history of the church. This election also marks the first time that [a] woman diocesan bishop is succeeded by another woman…

But this is inaccurate. There was already such a succession in the Diocese of Edmonton, Canada (Jane Alexander followed Victoria Matthews) and there are already diocesan bishops in Swaziland who are both black and female.

The Bishop of Chicago, where she currently serves, wrote this about her election.

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Peter S
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Peter S

While heartily congratulating Baskerville-Burrows, Indianapolis, and the Episcopal Church: there are already black women serving as diocesan bishops in the Anglican Church (Swaziland), and this is the second time a woman has been succeeded by a woman (Edmonton).

Father Ron Smith
Guest

What a wonderful provenance for a diocesan bishop:

“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.”

Why can’t all bishops aspire to this vocation?

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘This election also marks the first time that [a] woman diocesan bishop is succeeded by another woman…’

In TEC, maybe, but not worldwide. In our Diocese of Edmonton Bishop Jane Alexander succeeded Bishop Victoria Matthews in 2008.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Now that’s how you write the press release for a new bishop. Jennifer sounds excellent.

JCF
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JCF

Mazel Tov and Blessings!

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Thank you for the corrections, I will amend the article accordingly.

Mary Clara
Guest
Mary Clara

I am not sure that the article needed amending; the Episcopal Cafe piece appears to be speaking of this as a first in TEC (“the church”) — not in the Anglican Communion, which, let us remember, is not a Church! In any case it is good to know of the situation across the Communion. Congratulations to the Bishop-elect and to the Diocese of Indianapolis!

Peter S
Guest
Peter S

What’s really interesting is that this appointment means TEC has appointed three women as diocesans in the last three months (DeDe Duncan-Probe, Central New York; Gretchen Rehberg, Spokane; Baskerville-Burrows, Indianapolis). This will take TEC from four female diocesans in 2016 (Washington DC, El Camino Real, Indianapolis, Central Pennsylvania) to six female diocesans in 2017. The self-examination of the House of Bishops a year ago in relation to the declining number of female diocesans and the still very low proportion of bishops who are women has clearly had results. In all three elections, half or more of the nominees were women,… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

@Peter S, all the more interesting as all three were elected in convention (we may sometimes call them “appointments” this side of the pond, but all are determined by election within the diocese to be led). We have had a significantly higher percentage of women nominated than in previous history, but none was elected from a list that was only women. Each of these women was elected by a different set of convention delegates (both clergy and lay), and each convention had to decide separately who the Spirit wanted in that diocese.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Mary Clara, you will have to forgive those of us who are not American for being a little sensitive to the tendency of the USA to speak as if it is the world (‘The World Series’ etc.). Certainly when I see the words ‘the church’, the first thing I think of is something a little bigger than a national denomination.

Peter S
Guest
Peter S

Thanks Marshall. Your points about the different electorates is significant, I agree. Here in Australia – the other side of the *other* pond – every diocese has a different method and sometimes I wonder if this is a wondrous diversity, or madness! I haven’t got exact figures but it seems that TEC still has a significantly smaller proportion of women among its bishops than Canada, Australia, Aotearoa – NZ, and even England, and I still find that curious given TEC’s leadership on this issue for over forty years.

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

“She is from New York, ordained by the Diocese of Central New York, and 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 and class reconciliation. She also maintains a strong focus in guiding others through the practice of spiritual direction. “One of the defining experiences of her ministry came when she found herself near the World Trade Center the morning of September 11, 2001. In the midst of a fearful situation, her own faith and… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

Peter S, you may be correct about the percentage. My rough count right now is that we currently have ten elected (bishops diocesan, coadjutor, suffragan, provisional, or bishop-elect). We also have a number who were elected, now retired, and hired as Assistant Bishop (so, accountable to the diocesan and not continuing beyond the diocesan’s tenure). Again, by rough count that’s less than 10% of bishops with cure. I can’t speak to the other national churches.

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

The number of TEC women bishops seems to be a regular question on this site. Determining their number is surprising difficult. My count is 22, of whom 9 are or were diocesans, one of whom also became presiding bishop and primate. My count is below. In addition, I am aware of three women elected as diocesans but not yet consecrated – DeDe Duncan-Probe, Central New York; Gretchen Rehberg, Spokane; Baskerville-Burrows, Indianapolis. If duly consescrated, this would result in 25 women bishops, 12 of whom are or were diocesans. Barbara C. Harris, Massachusetts (Suffragan); then Washington (Assistant) Jane Dixon, Washington (Suffragan)… Read more »

Peter S
Guest
Peter S

I can confirm your count is correct for TEC.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“I can’t help also reflecting on the difference in bishops appointed in the C of E: over and over again, new English bishops’ chief interests seem to be the like of gardening, walking in the country side and playing with their dogs.”

CofE likes bishops with pastoral interests. A bishop with an interest in social justice or, forfend, an intellectual, could raise all sorts of troubling issues.

primroseleague
Guest
primroseleague

Daniel Berry, I think it’s almost certainly a “pond difference” as much as anything else. To the UK public, a statement like that might be seen as bragging and self-promotion. It makes people suspicious and gets CVs filed in the bin (not just for bishops, but more generally).

Too much polish, too much “passion”, any suggestion of intellectualism is the quickest way to turn off the public over here. It’s actually probably better, if not even advisable, to hide any lights under bushels of gardening or walking.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

‘A bishop with an interest in social justice or, forfend, an intellectual, could raise all sorts of troubling issues’

My brother worked for Tearfund for over fifteen years, in donor relations. During that time he worked closely with many Church of England parishes, and a number of dioceses and bishops. I can confirm from my conversations with him that there have been a good number of C of E bishops with an interest in social justice.

What the C of E has really disliked until very recently is bishops who have an interest in evangelism.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“I can confirm from my conversations with him that there have been a good number of C of E bishops with an interest in social justice”

If that was the case then the bishops seated in the House of Lords would be making a lot of noise about social justice. After all, the number of bishops in the House of Lords is bigger than the representation of many small political parties yet they get their agendas across more vocally than the bishops do.

Jim Pratt
Guest
Jim Pratt

Peter S.
Your count of female diocesans in Canada missed the Territory of the People (formerly Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior formerly Cariboo), which was restored to diocesan status in 2015. (Previously, Barbara Andrews had been considered a suffragan to the metropolitan of British Columbia and the Yukon).

With the pending consecration in Algoma, in 2017 the Canadian church will have 7 (out of 29) female diocesans, plus 2 suffragans, for a total of 9 women in the 40-member HoB.