Barbara C. Harris, the first African American woman to be ordained as a bishop in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, died on Friday in Massachusetts. She was 89.
Harris, who grew up in Philadelphia, became the first woman and the first African American woman, to ascent to bishop within the church. She came to her prominent position within the church late in life, after spending years working in public relations for Joseph V. Baker Associates PR and Sun Company.
Harris was ordained as a deacon in 1979 and the next year as a priest in the Diocese of Pennsylvania at the age of 50. She was later elected as a suffragan (assistant) bishop in September 1988 and consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in 1989.