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GC80: Out with the old; in with the new
Fast-tracking the Episcopal sainthood of Barbara Harris by sliding her in through the backdoor

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
July 13, 2022


The Episcopal Church is intent on replacing William Porcher DuBose (1836-1918), one of The Episcopal Church's most brilliant early 20th century theologians, with Barbara Harris, a mediocre bishop suffragan whose only claim to fame is that she is the first female bishop consecrated in the Anglican Communion who embraced multiculturalism and was a strong advocate for LGBTQ crowd.

In the eyes of the Episcopal General Convention, Fr. DuBose's glaring fault was that he was a Southerner from South Carolina and a product of his time. He was a young man during the Civil War, and as such he reflected the times he lived in.

He was raised on the Roseland Plantation, a 2,500 acre working southern plantation outside of Winnsboro, South Carolina. His family had more than 200 slaves to work the property.

During the antebellum years South Carolina's cash crops were rice, sugarcane, tobacco and cotton all of which are labor intensive to produce and harvest. In the mid-19th century in the rural South there were few, if any, mechanical devices designed for agriculture.

In 1851, young William entered the South Carolina Military Academy which is now known as The Citadel. There he had a powerful encounter with the Lord.

"I lept to my feet trembling, and then that happened that I can only describe by saying that a light shone about me and a Presence filled the room," he explained. "At the same time, ineffable joy and peace took possession of me which it is impossible to either express or explain."

This conversion experience, which happened during the Second Great Awakening, impacted young William greatly.

In 1859, he picked up a Master of Arts degree from the University of Virginia. Then he headed to the newly-opened diocesan theological seminary in Camden, South Carolina to study for the ministry.

When the Civil War broke out a year later, he left the South Carolina Episcopal seminary to join the Holcombe Legion and fought in the Second Battle of Bull Run where he was injured and captured.

Following his release, through a Prisoner-of-War exchange, William DuBose was ordained a deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America and became chaplain to the Kershaw's Brigade.

Following the war, Deacon DuBose was eventually ordained priest in1866 by Bishop Thomas Davis (V South Carolina) after he realigned with The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

Following his ordination, Fr. DuBose served various churches in South Carolina including St. John's in Fairfield, St. Stephen's in Ridgeway, St. John's in Winnsboro, and Trinity in Abbeville.

In 1870, he was in the running to become the VI Bishop of South Carolina. But he felt it was fortunate that he lost out.

He may not have become an Episcopal Bishop, but his nephew Theodore DuBose Bratton (III Mississippi) did. Bishop Bratton's mother Elizabeth DuBose Bratton was Fr. DuBose's sister.

Fr. DuBose was very instrumental in the early years of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. During his 37 years at Sewanee he served as professor, chaplain, and Dean of Theology. And following his death in 1918, he was buried there.

He was the school's first chaplain and helped to establish the School of Theology and he was an outstanding professor of the New Testament.

Fr. DuBose is noted for his writings. Some of his most notable works include: The Christian Ministry (1870); The Soteriology of the New Testament (1892); The Ecumenical Councils (1896); The Gospel in the Gospels (1906); High Priesthood and Sacrifice (1908); The Reason of Life (1911); and Turning Points in My Life (1912).

He had published more than 40 books and articles and then the University of the South put out a compendium of his works. "A Dubose Reader" was published in 1984.

Fr. William Porcher DuBose may be to The Episcopal Church what Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is to the Catholic Church -- a brilliant theologian and a prolific writer.

Archbishop Sheen's canonization process is also caught up in the cancel culture and his cause for sainthood is being paused.

Initially, Fr. DuBose made the Episcopal Church cut. However, it is not known when he was added to the church calendar. His feast day is August 18. And his readings are Psalm 19:7-14; James 3:1-12 and Luke 16:19-31.

His Feast Day collect reads:
Almighty God, Who didst give to Thy servant William Porcher DuBose special gifts of grace to understand the Scriptures and to teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus: Grant, we beseech Thee, that by this teaching we may know Thee, the one true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent; Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Diocese of Southeast Florida proposed two similar resolutions for removing DuBose from the church calendar. Both Resolutions C003 and C053 were channeled through the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy & Music. The Union of Black Episcopalians through Resolution C034 endorsed the Diocese of Southeast Florida's proposal.

The Diocese of Southeast Florida's rationale for removing William Porcher DuBose from the Book of Lesser Feasts & Fasts is:

1: It is stated in the citation for The Rev. William Porcher Dubose, August 18th, that he was "possibly the greatest theologian The Episcopal Church has ever produced."

2: It also states, "He preached the faith as it is in Christ Jesus."

3: The truth is the Rev. Dubose served as an officer in the Confederate Army.

4: The Rev. Dubose's family owned 204 slaves.

5: In all of his scholarly writings and teaching, there is never a mention that the Rev. Dubose renounced slavery or his participation as a traitor against the United States by serving in the Confederate Army.

6: The Episcopal Church should not be honoring a man who saw no conflict in teaching Jesus, but believing that Jesus would somehow condone the enslaving, killing, torturing and destroying families of a people, slaves or free.


A total of 16 resolutions were filed seeking to add Barbara Harris to The Episcopal Church's Lesser Feasts and Fasts celebrations.

The pro-offered resolutions included coming from the dioceses of Long Island (C055); Chicago (C029); Southern Ohio (C050); New Jersey (C051); Vermont (C022); Massachusetts (C026); Olympia (C024); Los Angeles (C045); Newark (C069); Washington, DC (C043); New York (C037); Missouri (C066); Atlanta (C061); North Carolina (C023); and Province V (C067). In addition, the Rev. Glenna Huber, rector of Epiphany in Washington, DC and former candidate for the Bishop of Connecticut, offered her own personal Resolution D012 in support of fast-tracking Barbara Harris to Episcopal sainthood.

Bishop Harris was ordained deacon and priest by Bishop Lyman Ogilby (XIII Pennsylvania) in 1979 and 1980, then she was consecrated a bishop suffragan on February 11, 1989 by Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning, David Johnson (XIV Massachusetts) and Allen Bartlett (XIV Pennsylvania). She also had a hand in the consecration of 21 other Episcopal bishops.

She was co-consecrator for: Sanford Hampton (Minnesota suffragan); Richard Shimpfly (II El Camino Real); Jane Dixon (Washington, DC suffragan); Mary Adelia McLeod (IX Vermont); Thomas Shaw (XV Massachusetts); Robert Ihloff (XIII Maryland); Catherine Roskam (New York suffragan); Wendell Gibbs (X Michigan); Michael Curry (XI North Carolina); Roy Cederholm (Massachusetts suffragan); Carol Gallegher (Southern Virginia suffragan): Gayle Harris (Massachusetts suffragan); and DeDe Duncan-Probe (XI Central New York).

And she participated in the consecrations of: Robert O'Neill (X Colorado); Vicky Gene Robinson (IX New Hampshire); Mark Hollingsworth (XI Ohio); Mary Glasspool (Los Angeles suffragan); Daniel Gutierrez (XVI Pennsylvania); Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows (XI Indianapolis); Samuel Rodman (XII North Carolina); and Carlye Hughes (XI Newark).

Since Barbara Harris first broke the stained-glass ceiling into the various Anglican Houses -- or Colleges -- of Bishops, many others have followed her.

In America, 48 other women have been elected to the Episcopal House of Bishops. Another 30 joined the Church of England House of Bishops, 20 are in Canada, 10 are in Australia, five in New Zealand, and four are in Wales.

There are two female Anglican bishops in Southern Africa, Kenya and Cuba. Brazil, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Scotland, South India, South Sudan all have a single female member among the rank of bishops. All told, there are 125 women seated as Anglican bishops, and that number is growing.

Three more women are slated to shortly join the Episcopal House of Bishops: Paula Clark (Bishop-elect XIII Chicago) on Sept. 17; Phyllis Spiegel (Bishop-elect XII Utah) on Sept. 17; and Shannon Duckworth (Bishop-elect XII Louisiana) on Nov. 19.

Barbara Harris is already venerated by many Episcopal churches in her canonical Diocese of Massachusetts, including by: the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston; St. Elizabeth's, Sudbury; Trinity Church, Boston; St. Peter's, Weston; St. Paul's, Brookline; St. Peter's, Osterville; Grace Church, Newton; Grace Church, New Bedford; St. Elizabeth's, Wilmington; All Saints, Brookline; St. Cyprian's, Boston; St. Andrew's, Marblehead; Boston Chinese Ministry; Emmanuel Church, Boston; St. Stephen's, Boston; St. Mary's, Newton Lower Falls; St. Andrew's, Edgartown; St. Paul's, Hopkinton; St. Mary's, Barnstable; St. Luke's, Scituate; Old North Church, Boston; Christ Church, Plymouth; St. John's, Gloucester; Good Shepherd, Wareham, Our Saviour, Arlington; St. Peter's, Barnstable; Holy Spirit, Orleans; St. Barnabas's, Falmouth; St. Paul's, Nantucket; St. Stephen's, Cohasset; St. James's, Groveland; Church of the Messiah, Woods Hole; Christ Church, Swansea; and Christ Church, Needham.

In addition, her fame has spread beyond the Diocese of Massachusetts where she is also celebrated at: Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA; All Saints, Hoboken, NJ; St. Luke's, Philadelphia, PA; St. Luke's, New Haven, CT; Christ Church, Glen Ridge, NJ; Christ Church, Rockville, MD; St. John's Memorial Church, Ramsey, NJ; St. John's, Springfield Gardens, NY; and St. Paul's, Holyoke, MA.

She is also honored by the Diocese of Los Angeles; the Diocese of New York; the Union of Black Episcopalians; the Diocese of Western Massachusetts; and the Diocese of Missouri. In addition, there is a Barbara Harris icon written by the Diocese of Missouri and blessed by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the consecration of Deon Johnson (XI Missouri).

In a 2013 interview with the National Visionary Leadership Project, Bishop Harris described herself as a divorced Black woman who was outspoken and left of center. She had not gone to seminary and was ordained only nine years before being elected a Bishop suffragan of Massachusetts.

The problem with trying to add the person Barbara Harris to The Episcopal Church calendar is that The Episcopal Church does not really have a mechanism in place for that to happen.

Although there is no canonical prohibition however, General Convention has traditionally taken the long view and waited 50 years past a person's death before including them in the Book of Lesser Feast and Fasts to make sure they have weathered the test of time.

Bishop Harris died March 13, 2020, a mere two years ago. She hasn't been dead long enough for her legacy to be solidified. Theoretically, it is the 97th General Convention in 2072 that should first consider adding the person Barbara Harris to The Episcopal Church calendar. By that time, there will be few who have living memory of Bishop Barbara Harris and they will have to rely on what history has to say about her.

Yet, in today's cancel culture it seems that William Porcher DuBose hasn't weathered the test of time and his name is now being scrubbed from The Episcopal Church's calendar for the simple fact that he lived in the antebellum South during a time when his family used slaves on their plantation.

" ... for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (I Samuel 16:7)

But other historical figures are facing the same fate and are in various stages of cancellation. These include: Robert E. Lee, Episcopal Bishop Leonidas Polk (I Louisiana); George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, John Sutter, Thomas Jefferson, Kit Carson, Ulysses S. Grant, Fr. Junípero Serro, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, JEB Stuart and others.

Who knows what "warts" will show up in 50 years to blemish Barbara Harris' "sterling" reputation.

So, to solve the problem of time, North Carolina's Resolution C023 was amended to reflect that Barbara Harris' consecration to the bishopric on February 11, 1989 should be commemorated as a special defining moment in Anglican Church history.

The original Resolution simply read: "That the 80th General Convention include and enter Barbara Clementine Harris, the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion and an African-American, to the Calendar of the Church Year, to be celebrated on March 13."

The amended Resolution now reads: "That this 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church hereby directs the inclusion of the observance of the consecration of Bishop Barbara Clementine Harris, first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion in the Lesser Feasts & Fasts Calendar of The Episcopal Church, and authorize trial use of the proper for the triennial 2023-2024 to be observed on February 11 ..."

So, the date and the emphasis of the Resolution have been changed. The date has been moved from March 13 to February 11, and the emphasis has been shifted from the person of Barbara Harris to her consecration as the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion.

Question: How can you celebrate an event without celebrating the person to whom the event is associated?

Answer: You really can't.

So, this is how Barbara Harris slips in the back door and is added to the Episcopal Church calendar.

FOOTNOTE: At the 1998 Lambeth conference her hatred of African orthodox bishops reared its head and she was heard to say from her wheelchair "that If assholes could fly, this place would be an airport."

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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