The Right Rev. Robert Christopher Wright was elected June 2, 2012, by lay delegates and priests of the Diocese of Atlanta to become the 10th bishop in the diocese’s 105-year history. He was ordained and consecrated a bishop on Saturday, Oct. 13, in a special worship service at Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel on the campus of Morehouse College. He is the first African American to become an Episcopal bishop in Georgia.
Wright was born Feb. 3, 1964, in a Roman Catholic orphanage in Pittsburgh, Pa., and at the age of nine months was adopted by Earl C. and Charlene Wright. After graduating high school, he served five years as a U. S. Navy helicopter crew chief and search and rescue diver before entering Howard University in Washington, D.C. Upon graduating from Howard in 1991 with a degree in history and political science, he worked as a child advocate for two mayors and for the Children’s Defense Fund. He later earned a certificate in biblical studies at Ridley Hall, Cambridge University in England, and a master of divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Va. On July 4, 1998, he married Beth-Sarah Panton.
He was ordained a priest in on Feb. 13, 1999, by Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon in the Diocese of Washington. Prior to moving to Atlanta, he was Canon Pastor and Vicar of the Congregation of St. Saviour at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, N.Y. (1998-2002) and served as chaplain of the Cathedral School in New York City (1998-2000). He received the Harvard Summer Leadership Certificate in 2006 and the Certificate in Pastoral Leadership from Oxford University, England, in 2007.
At the time of his election as bishop he was rector of historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Ga., where he had served 10 years, a period that saw dramatic growth. St. Paul’s is now the largest predominately African-American congregation in the Episcopal Church.
Also during the past decade, Wright has served the Atlanta community as a member of Leadership Atlanta, on the boards of Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School and St. Laurence School. In the Diocese of Atlanta, in addition to serving as the dean of the Mid-Atlanta Convocation, he has chaired the Commission on Ministry, the deputation to the General Convention, and served as youth dean at Camp Mikell. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Virginia Theological Seminary.
He is married to Beth Sarah-Wright, Ph.D., an author, a former college professor and mother to their five children: Jordan, Emmanuel, Selah, Noah, and Moses-Daniel. She currently serves as director of Christian formation at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Atlanta. Dr. Wright taught and served as a director at Spelman College, Atlanta, from August 2003 – May 2009. She was educated at New York University where she received a doctorate in performance studies (1998 – 2004), Cambridge University where she earned a master's in social anthropology (1997 – 1998) and at Princeton University, from which she holds a bachelor's in sociology (1991 – 1995). She was born and grew up in Jamaica.