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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Dear Lord, may our sister +Barbara rest in peace in your heavenly arms. She paved the way for so many and served you very well in her time on this earth.

Rest in God's eternal Peace Mother Harris. You were an inspiration to me.

May God in His infinite mercy rest her precious soul in eternal peace.

What can I tell you Mother Barbara. You are resting in the LORD on my Birthday. The knows it all' and has His plans for you on this day. I will always have you in mind but out wonderful LORD Holds you more. May your soul rest in PEACE and until we shall meet over there.

Barbara was a very special friend. We didn't see each other often but when we did, it was like we had been together the day before. You have gone home, rest in peace Barbara. You have been loved by many and will be missed.

It was a stunning day when I learned that Barbara Harris would become the first female Bishop in the world. She transformed the Anglican Communion in powerful, loving ways. May you rest in peace, +Barbara, and rise in glory.

Followed her from the time I met her. Admired her grit and determination. She helped the church move forward toward better understanding of the worth of color and women

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound! What a blessing to have Bishop Harris a servant in Christ Jesus.

Now she belongs to the ages as she rests with the saints forever. The Brotherhood of Saint Gregory offers prayers of thanksgiving for Bishop Barbara's life and heroic ministry among us.

May her gentle soul Rest in Perfect peace. I pray the good Lord will comfort the entire family and our members in Christ. Let us not mourn like those that do not have hope Amen!

Mrs Charity Ejelon from Chrst Church Hyde Park

May God be good to her. Pioneer and faithful servant.

Bishop Harris has been among my heroines since her ordination as Bishop. Her presence contributed to my decision to join the Episcopal Church of the USA. Her legacy is evident in the numbers of women of color who have joined the church, completed their studies to becomes Priests and/or engaged in social justice movements on behalf of the Church. May she rest-in peace and power!.

My deepest sympathies are with Bishop
Barbara Harris'family and friends.
She was a great shining light and such and inspiration to the each life she touched.
Thank you for your love and work for God's Church.
Rest in God's eternal peace.

What an inspiration Barbara has been over so many years to so many and to me personally. I was blessed in her being one of my Co-Consecrators at my ordination as a bishop 25 years ago. She was a friend and mentor before that and ever since. Barbara I love you and will always give thanks for your wisdom, strength, humor, and vibrant life I know will never end. Thanks be to God for you!
+Bob Ihloff

Barbara was a dear friend. We first met at national meetings of ESCRU (The Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity) in the 1960’s. I travelled from California to Boston for her glorious ordination as bishop and stayed over for her first press conference at diocesan headquarters. I couldn’ t to

May her soul rest in peace and may God Welcome her into paradise

RIP Barbara Harris

I am so sad. May she rest in God's Peace. My prayers are with her family and friends who cared for her. Thank you Bishop Gates for ministering to her in last days on this Earth. She was a role model and inspiration to many. Be with God, my friend

Barbara was a dear friend from the civil rights struggles of the 1960’s. I attended her first press conference after being ordained bishop, anticipating her trenchant

May Bishop Harris enjoy rejoicing in the presence of God. We had the pleasure of meeting her at our daughter’s wedding when she came to offer her prayers of blessings over their marriage. May her family find peace in knowing she is in the holy presence of God

May her memory be a blessing.

I was honored to sing in Schola for her presiding several times - her grace and compassion will be missed.

I got to know Barbara at Kanuga Conference Center in NC. She was a powerful influence on my ministry and that of so many. May light perpetual shine upon her.

What a truly, incredible picture of dedication and commitment.

James Horn
St. James Episcopal Church
Shallotte, NC

Do you have a site where I can go to tomorrow and listen
to an Episcopalian sermon>

May + Barbara rest in peace and rise in GLORY!

For Barbara Harris, June 12, 1930 - March 13, 2020
Date of Consecration as a Bishop, February 11, 1989

No longer in this vale of sorrows
that you called a "Good Friday World,"
today, your spring cleaning long done,
you changed your address from
this ever-slippery mortal existence
and took the leap, jumped the twig
into the Easter World of Paradise.

We are loathe to let you go, but
because we love you, we remember
your sharp wit, we take in your fierce wisdom,
we accept your challenge to keep our sleeves rolled up
and continue to fight the good fight against ignorance,
poverty, cruelty and injustice in every form.

We pick up the torches you have tossed at our feet.
We ask you to remember us kindly when you are
face to face with Pure Holiness.

We thank you for having blessed us each and all
in countless ways~ for teaching us tough love,
for helping us laugh and love and pray and be better.
And so we wave God Bless and Fare Well,
Precious Friend.

"A Luta Continua"

Alla Bozarth

PRAYERS. My mothet Valerie Wiggins hzs the pleazure of meeting the Bisop some years ago at Atonment Episcopal. My mother's name was Valerie Wiggins..1917-1981.

May her memory be eternal. May we remember and attempt to live the life she so faithfully modeled. What a gift to the world. What a gift indeed.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

It was a privilege to be at Bishop Barbara Harris' consecration, and subsequently, to meet her on various occasions and to listen to her preaching. She was one of the most eloquent and moving gospel preachers I have ever heard, and her buoyant and direct personality and keen awareness of people and circumstance were refreshing and bracing, comforting, and healing. Though I have lived in Maine these past 14 years, I have remained posted on her doings, and shall miss knowing that her voice and vibrant spirit have been stilled in this plane of existence. May it live on in those whose lives she touched.

It was a privilege to have known and worked with Barbara Harris. Barbara was on my board of directors when I was the executive director of Prisoner Visitation and Support (PVS). She represented the Episcopal Church and her contribution to our vision and success was immense. I will never forget attending her consecration in Boston - as Barbara passed by, I waved to her and she blew me a kiss. What a remarkable person. I will miss her.

It was such a highlight for me to meet and spend time with Barbara several times, most especially at College of Preachers. So much a pioneer for women clergy and beyond.
The Rev. Susan Speir

RIP. +Barbara . We grew around the corner from each other in Germantown, Philadelphia although I wish I knew her then. I knew her mother Ms Bee back then. I was looking forward of meeting her again now at dinner but that now won’t happen—-through memories filled with gales of laughter, some tears, and awaiting now my time of meeting her again in a heavenly neighborhood. She filled our neighborhoods now with heavenly Easter.

As fierce as she could be, I will always remember hers as a joyous soul. She loved the people that make up the Church and her ministry in it. The world seems a little smaller without her in it.

Many years ago, l was introduced to Bishop Barbara Harris at St. Mary of the Harbor Provincetown,Cape Cod.I will
forever remember the Love,Peace and Spirit she embodied as she chatted about Woman of Color in the ministry and
various racial justice community endeavors with wisdom and inspiration.

May God hold you in his Eternal Love and Peace: well done,thy good and faithful servant,,well done,,

Rev.Brenda Haywood: UU MeetingHouse,Provincetown,Ma.

I have had the great honor of sitting for the inspirational preaching from Bishop Harris on more that a few occasions. Each time I felt a bit closer to the throne of God. She is one of the major reasons I swam the Tiber the other way than Newman.
Jim Prendergast+

Many years ago I served as the first African American Development Officer at the Harvard AIDS Institute, my job was to ask Barbara to join the Board, as soon as I walked into her office, she said with a smile, " I know why you are here and the answer is yes!". She was there for the suffering and the researchers who wanted to find a cure. She was there for me!
Peace be with you My Sister in Christ and thank you for my first Harvard get of many!!
The Hon. Jackie K. Weatherspoon

It was such an honor to serve as one of the chalice servers at her Consecration. Bishop Barbara was a fine example of what Jesus calls each of us.
Rest In Peace dear one.

There was no one else like her, and there never will be. She was such a fabulous colleague and most welcoming to me when I came into the House of Bishops. Like so many of you, she was the one I sat in most awe of as well. Rest in Peace, and thanks for all you have been, for your life, ministry, and witness. +Greg

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bishop Harris's family. To have such a strong spirit in our midst was and always will be such an honor. She was truly favored by God and specially chosen to serve others. Thank you Bishop Harris for touching our hearts. Love and Amen, Sharon

May her spirit and legacy continue to guide those whose lives she touched. She was a great lady who believed in others and a great soul who did God's work without a grumble. She will be missed forever. May her soul rest in peace.

I weep at her loss but know she's welcomed in God's hands. I had the deep honor of knowing Barbara Harris when she was a lay social justice advocate and editor, and as a co-member of the Women's Ordination Now movement following the 1974 ordinations. Her shared historical memories as well as her leadership were deeply enriching for me as, I'm sure, for all others who knew her. Thank you, God, and may her memory be a model for all others today.

I hope we will learn where in Philadelphia Bishop Barbara is buried, so in time to come we may visit that blessed site.

Your earthly journey completed may the angels usher you peacefully into eternal life.

Blessings and joy be upon her who brought the same to so many of us.

She presided at the funeral of both Laura and her father The Rev.Dale VanMeeter. Laura Is my cousin and her father my Uncle.Her sermons meant a great deal to me as I was very close to that family. She said we're Easter people living in a Good Friday would. May she forever rest in peace. I live in Maine.

It is with a heavy heart that I acknowledge the passing of Bishop Barbara Harris.
We were school mates and friends for many years. May her soul rest in peace, She has touched so many hearts.
and brought peace and love to those she came in contact with. She will be greatly missed.

Rest in a wonderful, peaceful place!

My heart is full of sadness, but also full of thanksgiving for your ministry. It was a very special moment for me, sitting in the Cathedral balcony, when your election was announced. RIP Dear Barbara
Marge Burke

We will remember her and will be prayed for her peace in eternal life. St Pauls Episcopal Church, Indianapolis IN

I remember Bishop Barbara coming to the parish where I was serving in Massachusetts and delivering one of the most inspirational sermons I’ve ever heard. May she rest in peace and rise in glory. And may God bless her family and friends at this time...