Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, February 11, 2010
The Rt. Rev. Barbara Clementine Harris, consecrated first
woman bishop in the Anglican Communion, as Suffragan
of Massachusetts, on this date, 1989
It was a glorious liturgy! I was the Rector of a parish in Providence RI, and went with several other clergy to Barbara’s consecration. I had been a supporter of the ordination of women to the priesthood from the get-go. And I wasn’t about to miss this great step! There were many glorious moments in the service. One terrific moment, which I could see fully as I was sitting high up, was the large number of bishops circled around her and the Presiding Bishop laying on hands for the consecration.
But the one I remember the best came as the Presiding Bishop turned to all of us in the congregation and asked:
Is it your will that we ordain Barbara a bishop?
And the huge roar came back from the thousands of us gathered there:
IT IS !!
And as I remember it, there were long moments of clapping and cheering!! A glorious moment. I was deeply moved, and deeply inspired, and grateful for the Episcopal Church.
There are many people being denied equality or oppressed or mistreated in many ways. Women are near or at the top of the list. Thousands raped in the Congo. Many killed by their families for perceived “dishnouring” of their families. Many mutilated to sexually satisfy men. Millions refused education.
Barbara’s consecration reminds us all that there is a lot more to do.