Barbara Clementine Harris
Rt rev barbara harris102x135
Denomination Episcopal Church in the United States of America
Senior posting
See Massachusetts
Title Bishop Suffragan
Period in office 1989— 2003
Consecration 1989
Successor Gayle Elizabeth Harris
Religious career
Priestly ordination 1980
Date of birth June 12, 1930 (1930-06-12) (age 87)
Place of birth Philadelphia

The Rt. Rev. Barbara Clementine Harris (born 12 June 1930 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was the first woman ordained a bishop in the Anglican Communion.


Harris attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls (Class of 1948). There, she excelled in music and wrote a weekly column for the Philadelphia version of the Pittsburgh Courier called "High School Notes by Bobbi". After graduation, Harris attended the Charles Morris Price School of Advertising and Journalism in Philadelphia where she earned a Certificate in 1950.

Harris later attended Villanova University, the Urban Theology Unit in Sheffield, England, and also graduated from the Pennsylvania Foundation for Pastoral Counseling.

Prior to her ordination to the priesthood, Harris served as head of public relations for the Sun Oil Company.

Harris has long been active in civil rights issues, participating in freedom rides and marches in the 1960s, including the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. [1]. Throughout her various careers, she has been noted for her liberal views and her outspokenness.


Her rector at the Church of the Advocate on the north side of Philadelphia, the Rev. Paul Washington, became convinced of Harris's serious interest in seeking holy orders, and recommended her to Bishop Lyman C. Ogilby of Pennsylvania. Ogilby ordained her as a deacon in 1979 and a priest in 1980.[1] She served as an acolyte in the service in which the first eleven women were ordained priests in the Episcopal Church on 29 July 1974. She was the priest-in-charge of St. Augustine of Hippo Church in Norristown, Pennsylvania from 1980-1984, served as chaplain to the Philadelphia County prisons, and also as counsel to industrial corporations for public policy issues and social concerns. She was named executive director of the Episcopal Church Publishing Company in 1984, and publisher of The Witness magazine. In 1988 she served as interim rector of the Church of the Advocate.[2]

Election as bishop

She was ordained Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts on 11 February 1989. She retired from her post in Boston in 2003. She was succeeded as bishop suffragan by another African American woman, Gayle Elizabeth Harris.

Currently, Harris serves as Assisting Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC, and as president of the Episcopal Church Publishing Company, publishers of The Witness magazine.

External links

Major works

  • Harris, Barbara C.. Parting Words: A Farewell Discourse. Boston: Cowley Publications. ISBN 1561012173. 
  • Harris, Barbara C.. Beyond Powershift: Theological questions in a changing world (The Westminster Tanner-McMurrin lectures on the history and philosophy of religion at Westminster College). Westminster College. ISBN B0006PCK34. 

Barbara C. Harris Camp & Convention Center

The Barbara C. Harris Camp & Conference Center [3] is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, located in Greenfield, New Hampshire. The Camp & Conference Center is named in honor of Barbara C. Harris, the much beloved suffragan bishop of Massachusetts who was consecrated in 1989 and retired in 2003. A Camp & Conference task force was convened in 1997 to explore the potential of this vision, and their recommendation to proceed with the development of the Camp & Conference Center was approved by the Diocesan Council in 1998. From 1999 to 2002, the development of the Camp & Conference Center was under the direction of diocesan staff. In addition, over 200 lay and clergy volunteers lent their time, energy, and expertise to the project, working in a variety of roles. An extensive fund raising Campaign also took place in order to finance the construction and to fund a scholarship endowment and an operating endowment. The Barbara C. Harris Camp & Conference Center welcomed its first summer campers in July 2003.


  • Bozzuti-Jones, Mark. Miter Fits Just Fine: A Story about the Rt. Rev. Barbara Clementine Harris: The First Woman Bishop in the Anglican Communion. Boston: Cowley Publications. ISBN 1561012203. 


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