The Diocese of Massachusetts elected a suffragan bishop today who just happens to be a black woman with the name of Harris, repeating the historic election of Barbara Harris as a suffragan in 1988, the first woman elected a bishop in the Anglican Communion.
The Rev. Gayle Harris, currently rector of St. Luke and St. Simon Cyrene Church in Rochester, New York, was elected on the second ballot by a simple majority of clergy and lay delegates to a special diocesan convention June 1 at Boston's Cathedral Church of St. Paul. The election was greeted with sustained cheering in the packed cathedral.
Harris will serve with Bishop M. Thomas Shaw SSJE, the diocesan bishop, and Suffragan Bishop Roy (Bud) Cedarholm. 'The election of Gayle Harris at this time in our history makes an important statement about our continuing commitment to an inclusive ministry of advocacy and spiritual presence,' said Shaw. 'Her skills as a parish priest and church leader will enrich our ministry in eastern Massachusetts.'
A 21-member nominating committee announced the final slate of candidates in February, following a process that gathered 92 names.
During his speech nominating Harris, Mr. Howard Webber, a member of the Diocesan Council, said that Harris 'brings a large tapestry of capabilities. Inclusion and reconciliation are the hallmarks of her ministry, and her experience in an urban setting is broad and deep. She is a deeply human and even amusing person.'
If she receives consents from a majority of the diocesan standing committees and the bishops of the church, a consecration liturgy is scheduled for January 18, 2003.
Harris, who is 52, has been an adjunct professor at Colgate Rochester Seminary where she taught a course on the life and mission of contemporary Anglican parishes. Before taking the parish position in Rochester she was priest-in-charge of Holy Communion Church in Washington, D.C. She graduated from Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley and is a former trustee and president of the school's alumni council. She was a member and president of the standing committee in the Diocese of Washington and has been a deputy to the last two General Conventions. She and her husband, the Rev. Peter Peters, have three adult children and one grandchild.