[Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina] The Diocese of North Carolina, on the morning of June 15, ordained the Rev. Anne Elliott Hodges-Copple as its sixth bishop suffragan. Hodges-Copple becomes the first female bishop in the Episcopal Church’s Province IV.
More than 1,400 people attended or participated in the service, held in the historic Duke Chapel on the campus of Duke University in Durham. Hodges-Copple, formerly the rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Durham, was elected Jan. 25 out of a field of five candidates during the diocese’s annual convention.
As bishop suffragan, Hodges-Copple will assist North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry in leading the diocese into what he has termed “21st-century Galilee,” or the diverse modern world in which we live.
Hodges-Copple ministry will focus especially on higher education, young adults, Spanish-speaking communities, the ordination process for the diaconate, companion diocese relationships with Costa Rica and Botswana, ecumenical and interfaith work, and pastoral care of retired clergy and their spouses.
Hodges-Copple will be the diocese’s first bishop suffragan since the Rt. Rev. Gary Gloster retired in 2007. With her historic election, she follows in the footsteps of the diocese’s first bishop suffragan, the Rt. Rev. Henry Beard Delany, who became the first black bishop to serve the diocese when ordained in 1918.
Hodges-Copple previously served as the Episcopal chaplain at Duke University; the assistant to the rector at St. Luke’s; the director of battered women’s shelters in Wake, Orange, and Durham counties; and a community organizer in Massachusetts and Kentucky.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori served as chief consecrator. Co-consecrators included Curry, Gloster, Bishop Scott Benhase of Georgia and Bishop Suffragan Susan Goff of Virginia.
The service featured many important symbols of Hodges-Copple’s office: her brightly colored vestments, for example, display images of water, grain, grapes and wind and serve as expressions of sacramental life. The handmade walnut crosier she received belonged to the Rt. Rev. Huntington Williams, Jr., bishop suffragan of North Carolina from 1985-1989. The crosier is a gift from Williams’ family.
Hodges-Copple’s husband, John, presented her with her pectoral cross, and her mother, Joan Daniel Hodges, presented her with her ring. The Rt. Rev. Robert Johnson, 10th bishop of North Carolina and also a former rector of St. Luke’s, and his wife, Connie, presented Hodges-Copple with her miter. Her children, siblings, nieces and nephews all also played important roles.
Duke Chapel also holds special significance for Hodges-Copple. She attended Duke University as an undergraduate and sang in the chapel choir. She later served as the Episcopal chaplain at Duke from 1992 until 2005.
Watch a video of the complete service here.