“I would like to see the church come to some better understanding of what it means to be an inclusive fellowship, how to more fully exhibit the love of Christ in the world.” – Bishop Barbara Harris


In honor of Women’s History Month, we acknowledge the historic role of Bishop Barbara C. Harris in the Episcopal Church. Harris served as a crucifer at the ordination of the first 11 women priests in 1974 at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia, a moment that deepened her involvement in the church. She was ordained a deacon in 1979 and a priest one year later.


Having been an ardent civil rights advocate, who’d marched with Dr. King in Selma, she carried her passion for social justice into her work and became known in the Anglican community for her powerful words in the progressive Episcopal magazine, The Witness. In 1988, she was ordained as the first Episcopal female bishop. At the most recent Diocesan convention, a resolution was passed to support her elevation to the status of a saint and to include her commemoration in the annual Episcopal calendar on March 13, the day of her death at age 89 in 2020.


As the St. Barnabas Diversity & Inclusion Committee works to make St. Barnabas a welcoming and inclusive place for all, we turn to trailblazers like Bishop Harris for inspiration.


By Susan Brunenavs, Diversity Committee member