Rev. Dorothy Wells is the First Black and First Woman to be Elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese Of Mississippi

Rev. Dorothy Sanders Wells is the first African American and first woman to be elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. The pioneer was chosen after receiving the support of the majority of lay delegates and more than two-thirds of the church’s clergy.

The audience cheered for a minute when current Bishop Brian R. Seage, who was elected in 2014, announced the results earlier this month. Bishop-elect Wells was pleased as she addressed the audience via Zoom.

“I can’t wait to get to know everyone. According to WJTV, Wells expressed excitement for the collaborative work that God can bring about.

The electee has served as the rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Germantown, Tennessee since 2013. She also acts as the preschool chaplain. Wells had previously served as Curate at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Collierville, Tennessee. In addition to serving on the Standing Committee, Wells was the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee’s Secretary. She has served as Chaplain to the Episcopal Church Women, Secretary to the Bishop and Council, and Member of the Bishop and Council.

Wells, originally from Alabama, relocated to Memphis to attend Rhodes College and has remained there ever since. Wells has two daughters with her husband, Herbert.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance from Rhodes, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Memphis’ Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, a Master of Divinity from Memphis Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.

According to the report, Wells was a former adjunct faculty member at the University of Memphis, Memphis Theological Seminary, and Emory University. She was also awarded a Distinguished Alumna by Rhodes College in 2011 and received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Service Award at the 2015 commencement.

In a few months, Wells will become the 11th bishop of the Mississippi diocese, supervising 87 parishes, missions, mission stations, and chaplaincies distributed across the state and serving 17,600 people. Mississippi’s Episcopal Church has been open since 1815. Before the election may be considered official, a majority of Episcopal bishops and diocesan standing committees across the United States must approve it.

The Clarion Ledger reports that Wells will be appointed Bishop-elect on May 1 and will work alongside Seage before his ordination on July 20. Michael Curry, the Episcopal Church’s first Black Presiding Bishop, will lead the ordination.

said, “We are reading all kinds of statistics and reports about declining church attendance and declining church engagement, but we know God is in the midst of all of this and I am looking forward to exploring with this Diocese all of the ways we can continue love God and love one another and serve our neighbors and care for the people around us.”

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