Dorothy Sanders Wells elected 11th bishop of Mississippi

Posted Feb 5, 2024

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Dorothy Sanders Wells was elected Feb. 3 to be the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Mississippi. She will be the first Black person and woman to hold the position.

Wells has served as rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Germantown, Tennessee, a suburb of Memphis, since 2013. She was chosen from a field of five nominees in an election held at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Upper School in Ridgeland. She received 69 out of 101 clergy votes and 93 out of 180 lay votes on the fourth ballot. A minimum of 51 clergy votes and 91 lay votes – a simple majority – were necessary for election on that ballot.

The Rev. Dorothy Sanders Wells was elected the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Mississippi on Feb. 3, 2024. Photo: Diocese of Mississippi

The other nominees were:

  • The Rev. Jason Alexander, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Arkansas;
  • The Very Rev. Jennifer Andrews-Weckerly, rector, Hickory Neck Episcopal Church, Toana, Virginia;
  • The Very Rev. Rob Courtney, rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and School, New Orleans, Louisiana;
  • The Very Rev. Walton Jones, rector, the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Starkville, Mississippi.

“Diocese of Mississippi, I am so humbled by the confidence that you have placed in me, and I am looking forward to being with you all — to growing in relationship with you all, to serving alongside you and to walking alongside you in this tremendous journey with God,” Wells said via Zoom in remarks made to the convention. “We are called to be lovers of one another and of our God, and together there is virtually nothing that we cannot accomplish.”

A native of Mobile, Alabama, Wells moved to Memphis to begin her undergraduate studies in vocal performance at Rhodes College. She also has a law degree from the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law at the University of Memphis.

Wells practiced law for 18 years before she was ordained as a priest. She worked as staff director of employee benefits law at FedEx Corporation for 15 years and previously practiced at Waring Cox, PLLC. She earned a Master of Divinity degree at Memphis Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. She served the Church of the Holy Apostles in Collierville, Tennessee, as a curate before being called as rector to St. George’s.

Wells and her husband, Herbert, have two daughters.

Wells will succeed Bishop Brian Seage, Mississippi’s 10th bishop who has served since 2014. The diocese includes 87 congregations and about 17,600 members in all the state’s 82 counties. Pending the consent of a majority of bishops and standing in The Episcopal Church, she will be ordained and consecrated as bishop on July 20, 2024.