The Rt. Rev. Barbara Clementine Harris, first woman in the Anglican Communion to be ordained bishop would be ninety years old today. Tomorrow she will be commemorated by the liturgy ordaining Deon Kevin Johnson and installing him as eleventh bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. Harris died in March of this year, so she has not yet been added to the Episcopal Church’s calendar of commemorations. But given her pioneering role there is little doubt she will be in due time.
The liturgical propers for her commemoration (collect and lessons) were written and selected by Johnson and the Rev. Canon Sandye Wilson, a close personal friend of Bishop Harris. They have been published in the order of service available on the diocese’s website.
Everliving God, in every generation you cause fresh winds to renew, refresh, and refine your people and in your Word summon us to live courageously as Easter people in an often Good Friday world. Defend us in our own day to make no peace with oppression; that boldly following the example of your servant Barbara Clementine Harris, chosen bishop in your church, we may strive not for ease or fame but gladly toil and walk with you all along our pilgrim journey; through Jesus our Savior. Amen
Judith 15:14, 16:13-16 (Judith’s Hymn of Deliverance)
Psalm 85:7-13 (“Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other”)
Philippians 4:1-9 (“Help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work
of the gospel, . . . Rejoice in the Lord always”)
Luke 24:1-12 (Women receive news of Christ’s resurrection and announce it to others)
No proper preface has been assigned since Eucharistic Prayer 3 from Enriching Our Worship is being used. It has a fixed preface.
When Harris was ordained bishop the commemoration observed was that of Absalom Jones, the first African American ordained a priest by the Episcopal Church. Harris’s ordination took place on February 11, 1989. Jones’s feast day is February 13, the day of his death.
Johnson’s ordination was originally scheduled for April 25, but was delayed due to Covid-19.