The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows was elected 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis on the second ballot today at Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis, Indiana. 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 woman diocesan bishop is succeeded by another woman.
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.
Bishop Jeffrey Lee of Chicago wrote this to the members of his diocese:
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 be 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.