Bishop Roaf is a lifelong Episcopalian. She grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. She was rector at St. Philip’s, the oldest African-American church in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, where she served as the parish leader since 2011. Before St. Philips’s, Bishop Roaf was associate rector for three years at Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans.
Bishop Roaf, who earned a law degree from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, and clerked two years for Judge James L. Dennis, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, worked in commercial real estate before pursuing a call to serve the Episcopal Church as clergy.
She completed her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and MPA at Princeton University. She attended Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. She is vice chair of the board of trustees at Virginia Theological Seminary.
Roaf was chosen in a balloting process in the diocese’s annual convention at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Germantown. All clergy and elected lay delegates are allowed to vote. Under the canons of the denomination, bishops are chosen by a clergy and lay leader votes. They must receive a majority from each group on the same ballot in order to be elected.
The diocese, which covers all of Tennessee west of the Tennessee River, has 8,260 active members and an average Sunday attendance of more than 3,000.