(ENS)-The Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. on April 6 ordained Carol Joy Gallagher as suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Southern Virginia–the first indigenous woman to join the episcopate in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The consecration service was held at St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Va., one of the three historically black colleges supported by the Episcopal Church.
A procession of nearly 200 participants moved across campus and up the hill and into the gymnasium, welcomed by drums played by representatives of Virginia’s tribes and with a “smudging” of smoke from sweet grass used in Native American ceremonies for blessing and purification.
The liturgy of nearly three hours was a blend of traditional Anglican liturgy mixed with soul music and Native American
elements – especially from Gallagher’s Cherokee heritage that comes from her mother, Betty WalkingStick Theobald. The new bishop’s great-great-great-grandmother walked the Trail of Tears from North Carolina to Oklahoma in the 1830s. Her father was a Presbyterian minister.