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Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia elects first female bishop

By Carlyle Gravely
[Episcopal News Service]  In an historic election, the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia on October 13 elected the first female bishop in its history--and the first indigenous female elected bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Rev. Carol J. Gallagher was elected bishop suffragan and will assist Bishop David C. Bane, Jr. Her primary duties will be to provide pastoral care for clergy families and to work with small congregations. Bishop-elect Gallagher is a member of the Cherokee Nation.

The 45-year-old Gallagher has been an Episcopal priest for 11 years. She is currently the rector of St. Anne's Church in Middletown, Delaware, where she has served since 1996. She has been active in the Episcopal Church at the national level, serving on the Episcopal Council of Indian Ministries and on the church's anti-racism committee.

Gallagher is married to Mark Gallagher and is the mother of three daughters, Emily, 23, Ariel, 18, Phoebe, 13. She is a candidate for the Ph.D. degree in Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Delaware. She received her undergraduate degree at Antioch College in Baltimore and her Master of Divinity from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

She was elected by the 375 lay and clergy representatives of the diocese on the third ballot at a special session of the Annual Council held at Christ and St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Norfolk/

If she receives the required consents from standing committees and bishops in the dioceses of the church, Gallagher will be consecrated at St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Virginia on Saturday, April 6, 2002. The new bishop will reside and work from a diocesan office in the Petersburg area.

There are 122 Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Southern Virginia covering 25 counties and 16 cities from the Atlantic Ocean west to Appomattox and Danville. It includes the metropolitan area of Hampton Roads and the environs of Richmond south of the James River.