Episcopal leaders join celebrations of Church of England’s first black female bishop

By David Paulsen
Posted Dec 4, 2019
Church of England consecrations

Dover Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin and Reading Bishop Olivia Graham are consecrated Nov. 19 at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Photo: St. Paul’s Cathedral

[Episcopal News Service] Last month’s consecration and installation of the first black female bishop in the Church of England were celebrated by a wide array of Anglican Communion leaders, including numerous leaders from The Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, The Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies president, was joined by West Tennessee Bishop Phoebe Roaf and Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, among others, in attendance at the Nov. 19 consecrations of Dover Bishop Rose Hudson-Wilkin and Reading Bishop Olivia Graham at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. A reception followed at Lambeth Palace, hosted by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Jennings and Douglas served with Hudson-Wilkin on the Anglican Consultative Council, most recently in 2016, according to a Facebook post by Jennings.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, the presiding bishop’s canon for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, and the Rev. Ronald Byrd, The Episcopal Church’s missioner for black ministries, were among the church leaders who attended Hudson-Wilkin’s installation Nov. 30 at Canterbury Cathedral.

Hudson-Wilkin, a native of Jamaica, previously served as chaplain to members of the British Parliament and as priest-in-charge of St. Mary-at-Hill Church in London. Her appointment to succeed Bishop Trevor Willmott was announced in June.

The bishop of Dover is technically a suffragan role in the Diocese of Canterbury, though it effectively entails oversight of the diocese, freeing the archbishop of Canterbury to focus on his responsibilities with the Anglican Communion and as head of the Church of England, according to the Anglican Communion News Service.

“I’m excited, I’ve got lots of new people to meet, to get to know, and that fills me with joy,” Hudson-Wilkin said after her consecration, according to the BBC. “Beginning this new ministry, there is a sense of awe in it all. But also something refreshing about being open to the new things that God has in store, not just for me as a person taking on this new leadership role, but for our diocese as a whole.”

Hudson-Wilkin led prayers during the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, a ceremony in which Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached.

Graham, the bishop of Reading who was consecrated with Hudson-Wilkin, is the first female bishop in the Diocese of Oxford. She now oversees 170 churches in the Reading area.

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.