Black Bishops in The Episcopal Church 1874-Present
Over the past 145 years there have been 44 Black Bishops consecrated in The Episcopal Church. These Bishops hail from the African Diaspora, as well as Africa. The African Diaspora includes those people of African descent living throughout the world in the United States, the Caribbean, Central America and other countries.
All Bishops are assigned a number by the Secretary of the House of Bishops according to their date of consecration. Bishop James Theodore Holly was the first Black Episcopal Bishop consecrated November 8, 1874, first Bishop of Haiti, number 106a.
People of African descent have a long proud heritage in The Episcopal Church. The following biographical sketches of the Black Episcopal Bishops provide a framework for the role that Black Bishops have played in the community in general and The Episcopal Church in particular.
James Theodore Holly106a Consecrated November 8, 1874, Diocese of Haiti I Bishop of Haiti. First black bishop in The Episcopal Church. Born in Washington DC. Ordained and served as Deacon at St. Matthew’s, Detroit, Michigan. Rector of St. Luke’s, New Haven Connecticut. The first Black Bishop present at a Lambeth Conference (1878). Founded the Anglican Church in Haiti, L’Eglise Orthodoxe Apostolique Haitienne. Samuel David Ferguson#139 Consecrated June 24, 1885 Diocese of Liberia IV Bishop of Liberia First Black Bishop of Liberia First Black Member of the House of Bishops Born Charleston, South Carolina. Emigrated with his parents to Liberia in 1848. Former Assistant minister and later rector of St. Mark’s Harper, Liberia. Founded Cuttington College. Greatly expanded the Church in Liberia. Edward Thomas Demby #296 Consecrated September 29, 1918 Diocese of Arkansas Bishop Suffragan for Colored Work First Black Suffragan Bishop in the United States Born Wilmington, Delaware. Suffragan Bishop for Colored Work, Diocese of Arkansas, and the Province of the Southwest. Wrote many devotional books including Devotions of the Cross and At the Holy Mass. Led Church expansion westward. Henry Beard Delany #298 Consecrated 1918 Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Suffragan for Colored Work Born a Methodist in St. Mary’s, Georgia. Entire ministry as a teacher, priest, archdeacon, and bishop was centered at St. Augustine’s College, Raleigh, North Carolina. Greatly advanced the cause of Blacks in the south. Theophilus Momolu Firah Gardiner #318 Consecrated June 23, 1921 Diocese of Liberia Bishop Suffragan of Liberia Born Cape Mount, Liberia. Son of a Muslim Imam. Professor of History at Cuttington College. Helped to lead the Church into the interior of Liberia. Bravid Washington Harris #451 Consecrated April 17, 1945 Diocese of Liberia VIII Bishop of Liberia First Executive Secretary for Negro Work Born Warrenton, North Carolina. Rector, Grace Church, Norfolk, Virginia. Archdeacon for Negro Work, Diocese of Southern Virginia. Revitalized Cuttington College and Theological School. Established tropical disease research and public health laboratories. Dillard Houston Brown #580 Consecrated January 6, 1961 Diocese of Liberia IX Bishop of Liberia Born in Marietta, Georgia. Rector St. Luke’s, Washington. A strong advocate for youth Ministry and community organization. Consecrated Bishop Coadjutor of Liberia 1961; Diocesan 1964. Vigorous fundraiser and developer of schools and parishes in outlying areas. Assassinated, along with four members of the diocesan staff, November 19, 1969. John Melville Burgess #590 Consecrated December 8, 1962 Diocese of Massachusetts X Bishop of Massachusetts First Black Diocesan Bishop in the United States Born Grand Rapids, Michigan. Served as Chaplain at Howard University. First Black Canon of Washington National Cathedral. Served as Archdeacon of Boston and Superintendent of the Episcopal City Mission. Bishop Suffragan and later Bishop Coadjutor of Massachusetts; member of the Church Workers Union and National President of the Union of Black Episcopalians. A champion of the ecumenical movement. Active in National Church and World Councils of Churches. Cedric Earl Mills #593 Consecrated April 19, 1963 Diocese of Virgin Islands First Black Bishop of the Virgin Islands Born Hartford, Connecticut. Rector St. James’ Church, Baltimore, Maryland. Assistant Bishop of the Diocese Los Angeles. Twice Executive Council Deputy to General Convention. Active in social agencies and educational groups. Richard Beamon Martin #620 Consecrated February 2, 1967 Diocese of Long Island Bishop Suffragan of Long Island Born in Peake, South Carolina. Rector of Grace Church, Norfolk, Virginia, and St. Philip’s Church. Brooklyn, New York. Archdeacon of Southern Virginia and Brooklyn, New York. Executive for Education, Mission, and Ministry of the National Church; Interim Bishop of the Virgin Island. Known for his reconciling spirit and as an active advocate for recruitment, training, and deployment of Blacks seeking Holy Orders. George Daniel Browne #652 Consecrated August 6, 1970 Diocese of Liberia X Bishop of Liberia IV Archbishop of West Africa Born Garroway, Liberia. First indigenous Bishop of Liberia. First Missionary Bishop directly elected by a diocese. Led the Church in Liberia toward self-support, independence from the American Church, and membership in the Province of West Africa. A visionary for peace and harmony during the civil unrest in Liberia. Luc Anatole Jacques Garnier #660 Consecrated April 20, 1971 Diocese of Haiti IV Bishop of Haiti Born in Maissade, Haiti. First indigenous Bishop of Haiti. Served rural parishes and Rector Church of the Epiphany, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Dean Holy Trinity Cathedral and Executive Administrator of the diocese. John Thomas Walker #664 Consecrated June 29, 1971 Diocese of Washington VI Bishop of Washington Born in Barnesville, Georgia. Rector St. Mary’s Church, Detroit, Michigan. Faculty of St. Paul’s School, Concord, New Hampshire; Canon, Washington Cathedral. Bishop Suffragan of Washington. Dean of the National Cathedral. Nominee for Presiding Bishop. A strong advocate for African American development and self-determination. Lemuel Barnett Shirley #675 Consecrated February 19, 1972 Diocese of Panama IV Bishop of Panama Born Colon, Panama. First native Panamanian ordained priest and first indigenous bishop. Educated in Panama and the United States. Active in parish ministry, including St. Paul’s, Panama City, Panama. Archdeacon of Panama. Telesforo Alexander Isaac #678 Consecrated March 9, 1972 Diocese of the Dominican Republic II Bishop of the Dominican Republic Born San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. School Chaplain and rural priest. Rector San Andres Church, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Fist indigenous bishop. Vice President Province IX. Vice-Chair Church World Service in the Dominican Republic. Known for his commitment to education and to the indigenous people in the region. Quintin Ebenezer Primo, Jr. #683 Consecrated September 20, 1972 Diocese of Chicago Bishop Suffragan of Chicago Born in Liberty County, Georgia. Chair, Chicago Advisory Commission on Metropolitan Affairs; coordinated diocesan inner-city parish work. Member, Executive Council. Rector, St. Simon’s Church, Rochester, New York; St. Matthew’s, Wilmington, Delaware; St. Matthew and St. Joseph Church, Detroit, Michigan. Known for his passion for justice. Harold Louis Wright #694 Consecrated February 2, 1974 Diocese of New York Bishop Suffragan of New York Born Boston, Massachusetts. Church musician, seminary instructor, parish priest. Rector, Church of the Resurrection, East Elmhurst, New York. Executive Council staff; Ministries coordinator, Diocese of New York. Chair, National Commission for Black Ministries. Henry Irving Mayson #716 Consecrated October 9, 1976 Diocese of Michigan Bishop Suffragan of Michigan Born in Cleveland, Ohio. Graduate St. Augustine’s College. Vicar, St. Philip’s Church, Akron, Ohio. Director, Department of Christian Social Relations, Diocese of Ohio. Archdeacon of Michigan. Walter Decoster Dennis #734 Consecrated October 6, 1979 Diocese of New York Bishop Suffragan of New York Born in Washington, DC. Canon, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York. Vicar, St. Cyprian’s, Hampton, Virginia. Co-founder, the Guild of St. Ives. Chair National Standing Committee on Constitutions and Canons. Co-Chair, National Recruitment, Training, and Deployment Committee. Vice President of Province II. Member, National Standing Commission on Structure. Chair, National Episcopal Commission for Black Ministries. Henry Boyd Hucles, III #760 Consecrated June 20, 1981 Diocese of Long Island Bishop Suffragan of Long Island Born in New York City. Rector, St. George’s Church, Brooklyn, New York. Archdeacon of Brooklyn, New York. Chair, Recruitment, Training, and Deployment Committee. Clarence Nicholas Coleridge #763 Consecrated October 23, 1981 Diocese of Connecticut Assisting Bishop of Pennsylvania XIII Bishop of Connecticut Born Georgetown, Guyana. Assistant, St. Philip’s, Harlem, New York, and St. George’s Church, Brooklyn, New York. Rector, St. Mark’s Church, Bridgeport, Connecticut. President, Christian Council of Connecticut. National Episcopal Commission for Black Ministries. Instituted The Bishop’s Fund for Children. Retired diplomat American Association of Pastoral Counselors. Bishop Suffragan of Connecticut 1981 – 1993. James Hamilton Ottley #779 Consecrated June 24, 1984 Diocese of Panama Assisting Bishop of Southeast Florida V Bishop of Panama Born Colon, Panama. Rector, St. Paul’s Church, Panama City, Panama. Vice President House of Bishop. Anglican Observer to the United Nations. Advocate for human economic rights among all nations. A member of the Ecumenical Delegation for peace and justice. Interim Bishop of Honduras. Executive Secretary, Province IX. Sturdie Wayman Downs #793 Consecrated February 9, 1985 Diocese of Nicaragua II Bishop of Nicaragua Born Corn Island, Nicaragua. Educated at St. Andrews Seminary, Mexico City, Mexico. First Indigenous Bishop of Nicaragua. Rector, All Saints, Managua, Nicaragua. Arthur Benjamin Williams, Jr. #812 Consecrated October 11, 1986 Diocese of Ohio Bishop Suffragan of Ohio Born in Providence, Rhode Island. Served parishes Diocese of Rhode Island and Michigan. Member, New Perspectives on Race which developed basic curriculum on anti-racism training. Archdeacon of the Diocese of Ohio. Member, National Executive Council, and the Board of Trustees of the General Theological Seminary. Chair, Commission on Human Sexuality. Chair, Committee for Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation. Vice President, Union of Black Episcopalians. Chair, Editorial Committee of Life Every Voice and Sing II. Vice President of the House of Bishops. Interim Director of Ethnic Congregational Development, national church staff. Egbert Don Taylor #819 Consecrated February 24, 1987 Diocese of the Virgin Island Vicar Bishop of New York III Bishop of the Virgin Island Born in Kingston, Jamaica. Rector, St. Philip’s Church, Buffalo, New York, and the Church of the Holy Cross, Decatur, Georgia. Communications work with the Episcopal Radio and Television Network Author and Lecturer on Pastoral Care and Evangelism. Orris George Walker, Jr. #826 Consecrated April 9, 1988 Diocese of Long Island VII Bishop of Long Island Born in Baltimore, Maryland. Co-founder of the Union of Black Episcopalians. Vicar, St. Mark’s, Kansas City. Rector of St. Matthew and St. Joseph Church, Detroit, Michigan. Archdeacon of Michigan. Bishop Coadjutor of Long Island. President and professor of Canon Law of the George Mercer Memorial School of Theology. President, Episcopal Charities of Long Island. Chair, Board of Managers of the Episcopal Church Services, and Interfaith Medical Center. Chair, Recruitment, Training, and Deployment Committee. Board of Trustees, General Theological Seminary, Nominating Committee for Presiding Bishop. Herbert Thompson, Jr. #829 Consecrated September 24, 1988 Diocese of Southern Ohio VIII Bishop of Southern Ohio Born in Bronx, New York. Vicar. St. Gabriel’s Church, Brooklyn, New York. Rector, Christ Church, Bellport, Long Island, Rector, Grace Church, Jamaica, New York. Bishop Coadjutor of Southern Ohio. Board of Directors Kanuga Conference Center. President, Church Pension Fund. Nominee for Presiding Bishop. Founder “Clergy Family” Network of the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Board of Trustees, General Theological Seminary. Franklin Delton Turner #831 Consecrated October 7, 1988 Diocese of Pennsylvania Assisting Bishop of Pennsylvania Bishop Suffragan of Pennsylvania Born in Norwood, North Carolina. Vicar, Church of the Epiphany, Dallas, Texas. Rector of St. George’s Church, Washington, DC. Staff Officer for Black Ministries. Founder and President Washington Episcopal Clergy Association. Board of Directors Kanuga Conference Center. Board of Trustees, Berkeley/ Yale Divinity School. Member Executive Council. Advocate for recruitment of Black leaders for Ministry. Foundered Organization of Black Episcopal Seminarians. Editor, Lift Every Voice and Sing. Barbara Clementine Harris #834 Consecrated February 11, 1989 Diocese of Massachusetts Assisting Bishop of Washington Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts First woman Bishop in the Anglican Communion Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Crucifier at the ordination of the “Philadelphia 11”, the first women priests of The Episcopal Church. Co-founder of the Black women’s Task Force. Executive Director of the Episcopal Church Publishing Company, publisher of Witness Magazine. Founder of the Consultation, a coalition of progressive church-related organizations. Priest-In-Charge, St. Augustine’s, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An advocate for the disenfranchised and a voice for the voiceless. Served all four orders in the struggle for full inclusion of Black people in the church. Chester Lovell Talton #861 Consecrated January 26, 1991 Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan of Los Angeles Born in Eldorado, Arizona. Mission Officer, Trinity Church Wall Street. Rector St. Phillip’s Church, Harlem, New York, and Rector, St. Paul’s, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Vicar, Church of the Holy Cross, Chicago. Focused on empowering the poor towards economic stability. Instrumental in the production of the Black Urban Ministries Conference for church leaders, in Los Angeles. Victor Alfonso Scantlebury #864 Consecrated March 15, 1991 Diocese of Panama Assistant Bishop of Chicago Bishop Suffragan of Panama Born in Colon, Panama. Rector, St. Paul’s, Panama City. Diocese youth Director and Province IX Youth Ministry. President of the Standing Committee. Member, Human Rights Committee for Refugees. Director Cursillos in Panama. Member, Executive Council, and representative for the Partners in Mission consultation of the Iberian Provinces in Spain. Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief. Rector, St. Mark/ St Christopher Church, Jackson Mississippi. Jean Zaché Duracin #881 Consecrated June 2, 1993 Diocese of Haiti V Bishop of Haiti Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. As a Linguist, he engaged in an international partnership to promote education and employment in Haiti. Committed to economic and academic equality. Works with various cultural and ecumenical groups to further the goals of education, employment, and housing for the people of Haiti. Theodore Althelbert Daniels #931 Consecrated June 30, 1997 Diocese of the Virgin Islands Assistant Bishop of Texas IV Bishop of the Virgin Islands Born in Ancon, Panama. Rector, Calvary, Washington, DC, House of the Redeemer, Landover Hills, Maryland, St. Luke’s, Columbia, South Carolina. Member, Diocesan and National Commissions on Ecumenism. Member, Executive Council, and House of Bishops Theology Committee. Committed to an ecumenical ministry of empowerment for the disenfranchised. Wendell Nathaniel Gibbs, Jr. #950 Consecrated February 5, 2000 Diocese of Michigan X Bishop of Michigan Born in Washington. DC. Curate Emmanuel Church, Rockford, Illinois. Associate Rector of Grace Church, Utica, New York. Rector of the Four Point Parish in Waterville, Chadwicks, Clark Mills, and Oriskany Falls, New York. Rector St. Andrew’s Church, Cincinnati, Ohio. Dean of the Ohio River Deanery, Diocese of Southern Ohio. President, Province V. Presiding Bishop’s Committee of Advice. Michael Bruce Curry #955 Consecrated June 17, 2000 Diocese of North Carolina XI Bishop of North Carolina Born in Chicago, Illinois. Deacon-in-charge, St. Stephen’s Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Rector St. Simon of Cyrene, Lincoln Heights, Ohio. Rector, St. James Church, Baltimore, Maryland. Extensive involvement in Crisis Control Ministry. Founder of ecumenical summer day camps for children, the Absalom Jones Initiative, and networks of family daycare providers. Broker of funds for investment in inner-city neighborhoods. National preaching and teaching ministry featured on The Protestant Hour. Chair, Advisory Committee for Black Ministries. Lloyd Emmanuel Allen Consecrated October 20, 2001 Honduran born Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras. Born in the city of Tela, Atlántida Department. Bishop Allen completed his primary studies at a boy’s school, Francisco Morazán, and completed his secondary studies at Triumph of the Cross, both in his hometown of Tela. After secondary school, he studied at the Teachers College of the Regional University of Northern Honduras. In 1987 he completed his undergraduate degree in Theology from the School of Theology at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. He entered the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas in 1988 where he was later awarded a Master’s Degree in Theology, and the Doctorate of Divinity. Gayle Elizabeth Harris #981 Consecrated January 18, 2003 Diocese of Massachusetts Bishop Suffragan of Massachusetts Born in Cleveland, Ohio. Assistant, St. Philip the Evangelist Church, Washington, DC. Priest-in-charge, Holy Communion Church. Nave Clergy at Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC. Rector, St. Luke and St. Simon Cyrene Church, Rochester, New York. Vice President, Church Pension Fund. CREDO Advisory Committee. Second African-American and third woman of color to be ordained a bishop in The Episcopal Church. Nominating Committee for Presiding Bishop. Edward Ambrose Gumbs #1003 The Rt. Rev. E. Ambrose Gumbs spent his childhood on the island of Anguilla, before it was discovered. He grew up in and entirely “country” atmosphere – no electricity or running water. It was very early in life that he discovered his spirituality in the Anglican church, as most of life on the Island centered around church events and functions. Nathan D. Baxter #1010 Consecrated October 21, 2006 Diocese of Central Pennsylvania X Bishop of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania Born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Rector of St. James Episcopal Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Dean of Washington National Cathedral; Chief Administrative Officer of the Protestant Episcopal Church Foundation; Administrative Dean and Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Dean and Associate Professor of Church and Ministry at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Chaplain and Professor of Religious Studies at St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia. Eugene Taylor Sutton #1030 14th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. Sutton, 54, canon pastor at Washington National Cathedral and director of the Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage (Diocese of Washington), was elected the first ballot out of a field of five nominees. The election took place at St. James’ Church, Lafayette Square, Baltimore. Sutton has served parishes in the dioceses of New Jersey and Washington. He has also taught homiletics and liturgics at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and General Theological Seminary. He’s also served as assistant to the bishop in the Diocese of New Jersey. Sutton is a frequent leader of retreats and conferences on prayer, preaching, spirituality and mission. Married to Sonya Subbayya Sutton, their family includes four children and stepchildren. Ogé Beauvoir #1064 The Rev. Canon Ogé Beauvoir, dean of the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Port-au-Prince, became the Diocese of Haiti‘s first bishop suffragan May 22 during a service in the diocese’s open-air cathedral. Beauvoir was elected Nov. 25, 2012, on the second ballot with 68 lay votes and 25 priest votes. The election took place at Ascension Church in Carrefour, a suburb of Port-au-Prince. Robert C. Wright #1069 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. Carl Wright 1098 The Rt. Rev. Carl Wright consecrated on 2/11/2017 as Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows consecrated on 4/29/2017 as Bishop of Indianapolis, #1100 in the American succession. Carlye J. Hughes The Rt. Rev. Carlye J. Hughes consecrated on 9/22/2018 as Bishop of Newark, #1109 in the American succession. Phoebe A. Roaf The Rev. Phoebe A. Roaf was ordained and consecrated as the fourth bishop of the Diocese of West Tennessee at 11 a.m. May 4, 2019, at Hope Church in Memphis. 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. Kimberly (Kym) Lucas The Rev. Kimberly (Kym) Lucas was ordained and consecrated as the eleventh bishop of The Episcopal Church in Colorado on May 18 at Saint John’s Cathedral in Denver. Lucas became the first woman bishop as well as the first African American bishop in the diocese’s 132-year history. Shannon MacVean-Brown The Rt. Rev. Dr. Shannon MacVean-Brown was elected bishop by the people of the Episcopal Church in Vermont on May 18, 2019, and was ordained and consecrated bishop on September 28, 2019. She is the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Vermont. Deon Johnson Bishop Johnson was ordained as the 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri on June 13, 2020, at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis.
Contact: The Rev. Canon Ronald C. Byrd Sr. Missioner for Black Ministries