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Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis elects first black woman as bishop

Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows becomes the 11th bishop of Indianapolis

Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis is breaking barriers. With 67 votes in the clergy order and 82 in the lay order, Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows was elected the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis. Baskerville-Burrows, 50, is the first African-American woman elected to be a diocesan bishop in the Episcopal Church.

After a two-year search by the diocese, the announcement was made at the 179th diocesan convention. Baskerville-Burrows currently serves as director of networking for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, nourishing partnerships and connections for church revitalization. She will take over after the retirement of Rt. Rev. Catherine M. Waynick in spring 2017. Pending the consent of the Episcopal Church’s diocesan standing committees and bishops, Baskerville-Burrows will be ordained and consecrated on April 29, 2017, at Butler University.

“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,” Baskerville-Burrows said. “I believe these experiences have prepared me to lead and serve in the particular place that is the Diocese of Indianapolis.”

Baskerville-Burrows is a New York native. She was ordained by the Diocese of Central New York. She graduated from Smith College, Cornell University and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Baskerville-Burrows has worked in historic preservation and has a passion for social issues such as gun violence, social justice and racial and class reconciliation.

“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.”

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.