The Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris
A native of Philadelphia, Barbara Clementine Harris graduated from the Charles Morris Price School of Advertising and Journalism. She joined Joseph V. Baker Associates Inc., a national public relations firm headquartered in Philadelphia, in 1949. She was president of the firm in 1968 when she joined the Sun Company as community relations consultant. She later was named manager of community and urban affairs and headed Sun’s public relations department from May 1973 until becoming a senior staff consultant at Sun’s corporate headquarters in 1977.
She attended Villanova University and studied at the Urban Theology Unit in Sheffield, England. She is also a graduate of the Pennsylvania Foundation for Pastoral Counseling. She was ordained a deacon in September 1979 and a priest in 1980.
She served as priest-in-charge of St. Augustine of Hippo Church in Norristown, PA, from 1980 to 1984. She also served as chaplain to the Philadelphia County prisons and as counsel to industrial corporations for public policy issues and social concerns.
In 1984, she was named executive director of the Episcopal Church Publishing Company and publisher of The Witness magazine. In 1988, she took on additional duties as interim rector of Philadelphia’s Church of the Advocate.
In September 1988, she was elected suffragan (assisting) bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts. On February 11, 1989, she was consecrated a bishop, the first woman to be ordained to the episcopate in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Bishop Harris has been active in professional and peace and justice organizations, as well as on national church boards and committees. A past president of the Episcopal Urban Caucus, she has represented the Episcopal Church on the board of the Prisoner Visitation and Support Committee and served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, for twenty years.
She retired on Nov. 1, 2002, and from 2003 to early 2007, she served as an assisting bishop in the Diocese of Washington (D.C.). She currently volunteers at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston and continues to be in demand worldwide for her prophetic preaching. In September 2012 she preached at the Synod of the Province of South Africa, marking the twentieth anniversary of the ordination of women there.
Bishop Harris holds seventeen honorary degrees from colleges, universities, and theological schools, including Virginia Theological Seminary, Yale University, Episcopal Divinity School and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. In 2007 she received a Wisdom Award from the National Visionary Leadership Project and was made an honorary fellow of Renison College of Waterloo University, Ontario.