Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis makes history

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By Chris Bavender

Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows was ordained as the first black female diocesan bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church April 29 at Clowes Hall in Indianapolis. The Most Rev. Michael Curry, the church’s presiding bishop, was joined by more than 40 bishops from the Episcopal Church during the ceremony.

The Episcopal Diocese includes five churches in Hamilton and Boone counties: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Lebanon; St. Francis-in-the-Fields, Zionsville; St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Carmel; Holy Family Episcopal Church, Fishers; and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Noblesville.

“I’ve had a chance to visit St. Francis-in-the-Fields and St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, and I’m moved by the faith of the people I’ve met and by their commitment to invigorating the church,” Baskerville-Burrows said in a press release. “I am looking forward to working with them on bringing the transforming love of God into the life of their communities.”

Baskerville-Burrows succeeds the Right Rev. Catherine Waynick, who retired after 20 years leading the diocese’s 48 congregations in central and southern Indiana.

The new bishop was most recently the director of networking for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. She joined the Episcopal Church as an adult and was baptized in 1989, a year after graduating from Smith College.

“Affirming, amplifying and encouraging the people of God to speak out and make a difference on social justice issues, such as racial and class reconciliation, marriage equality and gun safety have been part of my life and work for decades,” Baskerville-Burrows said in a message to church members. “In recent years, however, it has been the tragic epidemic of gun violence that affects both urban and rural communities that has been an area of focus and transformation for the people with whom I serve.”

Four years ago, she created Crosswalk to Work, a program for at-risk youth “that has been transformative for both teenagers and adult mentors alike,” she said.

“We often say, ‘Nothing stops a bullet like a job,’ and have found that sustained mentoring and teaching the soft skills of the work environment is making a difference,” Baskerville-Burrows said. “I’ve built coalitions across political divides to find common ground on gun violence, and I’ve sought to bring the church to the world in creative ways.”

When she has free time, she enjoys baking breads and cakes and trying new recipes for friends. She also enjoys training for triathlons and cheering her son, Timothy, at T-Ball games.

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