RIP: The Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, 1930-2020

Barbara C. Harris waving during her 1989 consecrecation service Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts Photo: David Zadig The Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, at her historic consecration service on Feb. 11, 1989.

The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts, announced on March 13, 2020, the death of the Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, who was the first woman to be ordained and consecrated a bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion and served as suffragan (assisting) bishop in the Diocese of Massachusetts from 1989 until her retirement in 2002.  The full text of Bishop Gates's announcement follows below.

Read a remembrance of Bishop Barbara C. Harris's life here.

We invite your messages of remembrance using the form below.

Find messages of remembrance from Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry and others here.

Dear Friends,

It is with deep sadness that I write to let you know that Bishop Barbara Harris died on the night of March 13, 2020, at Care Dimensions Hospice House in Lincoln following a hospitalization in Boston, faithfully attended throughout by dear friends and upheld by the prayers of so many.  She was 89.

Our hearts are truly heavy at the loss of one who has been a faithful and altogether irrepressible companion, pastor and inspiration to us in the Diocese of Massachusetts for 31 years.  At the same time our hearts are truly buoyed by the hope which she preached and the conviction she embodied for us throughout all these years.

Barbara once wrote, "If we can believe that Jesus, who died, rose again from the dead, ... then we can, in peace, give over those who have died—known and unknown—to a loving, compassionate and ever-merciful God who has prepared for us a better home than this Good Friday world."  

With regret but with confidence, we entrust our beloved sister Barbara to that merciful and compassionate God, just as she invited us to do.

Our prayers are with Barbara's brother, Thomas, and his family, the loved ones and friends she leaves behind and all who mourn.

In recent days it has been my honor on your behalf to share Holy Communion with Barbara, and in prayer and sacrament to commend her to her maker.  Arrangements are pending for the public funeral service to be held at Washington National Cathedral and a private graveside service in Philadelphia, followed thereafter by a memorial service at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston.  

We know that many in Barbara’s worldwide church family will be eager to take part in the public liturgies in celebration of her life.  Because of the coronavirus pandemic and current restrictions on travel and group gatherings, we will delay setting service dates for now.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates

Messages of condolence for Bishop Harris’s family may be sent in care of the Office of the Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, 138 Tremont Street, Boston MA 02111.  Memorial donations may be made to the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center, PO Box 204, Greenfield N.H. 03047.  Online donations may be made via

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May her memory be eternal and her life a real witness to the resurrection!

I have asked that Bishop Barbara Harris be placed on the prayer list at the church I attend, St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, Metairie, LA

Please accept my condolences! Bishop Barbara Harris played a significant role in my call to the priesthood. I am so grateful for the way she invested in my life, warning me about racism and sexism, and encouraging me to persevere with courage and boldness. If there is someone who understood perseverance, courage, and boldness, it was Bishop Barbara Harris. Her deep faith in Christ, I think, was a secret of her strength. Our church has lost an amazing saint! Any of us who knew her experienced the privilege of her wisdom and passion for justice. May she Rest In Peace and Rise in Glory! I offer prayers of comfort and peace to her family and friends!

People of our Diocese and far beyond are united tonight with deep gratitude and affection for our sister in Christ, Barbara. We thank her for her courageous thoughts, words and actions over so many years. We remember the huge crowd that gathered for her consecration in Boston;.
May her courageous soul rest in eternal peace with God.

My heart aches to see you go and yet, all the way through the grave, Alleluia. Thank you for leading the way then and now.

May light perpetual shine on you. You blessed us with your leadership abilities. I hope the Holy Ghost leads me to be as humbly exalted as you, in the shell of an African woman.

Oh how I shall always love you, dear Bishop Barbara and be grateful for our occasional meetings through St. Andrew’s Church, Edgartown and St. Paul’s Cathedral Boston. As for legions, you gave my life the light of love and faith and humor. Lift Every Voice and Sing, for you. Welcome home.

We came from the UK and my partner Cath, daughter Lily and I worshipped wth Bishop Barbara in NYC. The greatest privilege of our lives to have done so. We were just strangers at the event, yet she showed kindness and true hospitality and her preaching rocked.

We have lost a truly valiant and courageous woman of God. What a guiding and compelling light she has been to us all from the very early days of women's ordination through so many challenging days that affected church and society as a whole. May we all take up her mantle and continue the work she began.

A great woman God who shared the love of christ with all. Dance with angels. You have done your work here on earth.

My sincerest sympathies to Bishop Barbara Harris' family. She was such an inspiration!
My received hug and listening to her iconic voice of wisdom, will forever be moments when time stopped for me. May Bishop Barbara rest in peace.

My sincerest condolences to Bishop Harris’ family and friends...Thank you Bishop for being the 1st and paving the way! rest peacefully.✝️?

Grateful to have known her, been confirmed by her and to have come up and been formed for ministry in a Diocese and Church that she transformed. Big shoes to fill and it will take all of us to do it. --Edwin+

My heart goes out as Verger for St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Phoenix, Arizona.

Throughout my years of attending diocesan convention, including when I was in formation, it was always good to see her. I was always proud to know that my diocese was such a trailblazer in ordaining her as the first female (and woman of color) bishop in the Anglican Communion.

Rest in peace and rise in glory, dear sister.

Rip Your Grace

I remembered reading about her when it happened in 1989. I have kept the memories of the papers reporting on it.

I was blest to be at her Consecration. I'll never forget another occasion when I asked (much like asking an Ama for a 'word') if there was something special I should say about the Church to ..the young seminarians I was teaching. Her reply was, 'Tell them the truth' . Amen, dear Sister. Always have and always will! Memory eternal.

Mark and I are deeply saddened by the death of Bishop Harris. We remember her first days as our Bishop with joy and thankfulness. Bishop Harris was a remarkable Bishop and friend. May she Rest In Peace and Rise in Glory. We send our deepest condolences.
In Christ’s love,
Andi & Mark Silberman

May she Rest In Peace and rise in glory, and May her memory be for a blessing.

I am so glad I had the pleasure of attending a service last year and heard a sermon from her. RIP

I was privileged to hear Bishop Harris speak at my May 1990 commencement from graduate school at Salem State College. I was not planning to attend until she was announced as speaker. She was powerful and challenging in drawing our attention to our responsibility to make the world a better place for ALL not just ourselves. I am also frequently reminded of her impact when one group or another from vestry to youth groups at my Western Mass church (St. Mark's in East Longmeadow) announces a retreat at the Bishop Barbara C. Harris Camp in NH. Her faith was deep.

Barbara was a special lady and bishop. I knew Barbara before she was a priest and did prison work with my husband in Philadelphia. I was honored when she spoke at Fred’s funeral.
May she Rest In Peace. Prayers for her family and friends.

She now knows what we continue to wonder. In this earthly life she gave us courage to speak up, move on and trust the fierce love of God. Enduring and salty memories. Her presence in my life made me a better priest and human being.
Requiescat in pace ,Barbara.

"Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity, in the habitation of thy glory and dominion, world without end. Amen." -- John Donne

I remember Bishop Barbara when she visited Epiphany Parish in Walpole several years ago. The choir met with her in the choir room, and she played some of the hymns from LEVAS and had us singing them--with vigor for sure. She played the music the way it was supposed to be played--with lots of feeling and a bit of jazz. At the moment, I cannot recall the hymns, but when we sing them, I remember her always. I also remember when Bishop Bud was consecrated and she walked down the aisle of Trinity Church blessing everyone. I ended up with a face of sprinkled holy water--I was certainly blessed by a loving Bishop. May you rest in peace, Barbara. We will all miss you.

Bishop Harris was an awesome human! She confirmed me in the seventh grade and was gracious and loving. I felt as if she cared about who I was and what my journey would be. She will be deeply missed. Rest In Peace ❤️

That you for sharing her with us.

As a member of St. Stephen's Memorial Church, Lynn, MA. I had several opportunities to be in the company of this wonderful woman. Each time was a gift that is forever in my heart. May her journey be pain-free, joyous and with a bit of adventure. Godspeed, "my smoking buddy"

She was a trailblazer, a woman to certainly emulate. May she Rest In Peace and Power.

Rest eternal grant to her , O Lord
And let light perpetual shine upon her

You lived in the glory of God. Rest now in his arms with peace.

It is with a very sad heart that I’ve learned of Bishop Harris’ passing. Her work and her wonderful example of a woman of faith will also bring me hope.

Dear Bishop Barbara, you have been a wonderful presence in our Diocese, as well as in my life. Thank you so much for all the ways that you have led all people of faith as well. May God hold you in God's loving arms. Nancy Shepherd

Celebrating the life of our dear Bishop and praying for her brother's family. The God almighty give Peace and comfort to all who knew her.

Rest in Peace My Sister ❤??

+Barbara Harris was an inspiration to all of us, a pioneer, encourager, affirmer. Thanks be to God for raising up Barbara asa sign of courageous leadership for the Church.

I was blessed to have her as my Suffragan Bishop during my formation and then at my Diaconal and Priestly ordinations. She was an inspiration to me with her courage, her wisdom and her contagious laughter. I will miss seeing her at our Diocesan events. May she rest now in peace and rise in glory.

Barbara C. Harris was a great human being and woman, a great Bishop in the Church of God. May she Rest In Peace and Rise in Glory through God’s mercy!

Sending love and prayers at this sad time. Bishop Harris was a truly great lady and her presence will be greatly missed. RIP sweet lady. ❤?

Prayers for the family and friends of the Right Reverend Barbara Harris. I met her a couple of years ago. She was a precious lady.

I am so grateful for Bishop Barbara’s life, ministry and legacy. She received me into the Episcopal Church 24 years ago - a day that has shaped and changed my life in so many positive ways.

So grateful for the life and witness of Bp Barbara Harris and the ways she offered wise counsel as a big sister would: with love & clarity of experience. I considered her a role model. She was an inspiration showing through her life and words how I could faithfully serve God and all in the face of challenges, obstacles, and stupidity. I always loved you and looked up to you Bp Barbara, so grateful to have you looking down on me (us).

I first met Bishop Barbara at the 10th anniversary of the first women priests. She was so elegant in her pleated clergy shirt...she reminded me and Vienna Anderson that she was the crucifer at that historic event. Only a few years ago, I often saw her at the Washington Cathedral, sitting quietly in the left side aisle. She was a shining example of the love of Christ and all people.

All is well and all shall be well
God Bless her precious soul

A truly beautiful, irrepressible soul. You will rest I piece. Jack
--Bp. Jack McKelvey

You will always be my Shero and surely missed. Rest In Peace and rise in glory! Lynne Washington+

May the soul of this faithful servant of God rest in eternal peace and rise in glory ??????

Rest in paz
She is on the Gloria of Gods