Episcopal Diocese of Texas Consecrates First Female Bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of Texas consecrated its first female bishop on Saturday, weeks before the Episcopal Church formally positions its first woman to lead the U.S. church body.

The Rev Dena Harrison was consecrated at Camp Allen and will now serve as bishop suffragan, an assistant to Bishop Don Wimberly in the Houston-based diocese. She is the first Episcopal woman to be elected as bishop in the diocese, the state and in the southern United States. Her consecration closely precedes the controversial installation of Presiding Bishop-Elect Katharine Jefferts Schori, who will depart her position in the Nevada bishop's office and become head of the Episcopal Church on Nov. 4.

Harrison noted the controversy over Jefferts Schori not only for her being a woman, but also "because of her views over the past years and her support of same-sex unions," she said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle.

Three years following the consecration of the church's first openly gay bishop – Gene Robinson of New Hampshire – the General Convention elected Jefferts Schori who expressed her support for gay relationships and said she believes homosexuality is not a sin.

Although Harrison voted to give consent to Jefferts Schori's election, she said that she doesn't agree with the presiding bishop-elect on such issues as her vote for Robinson and support for same-sex unions, reported the Houston Chronicle.

The consecration of Harrison follows the first historic Episcopal gathering for ordained women where hundreds of women priests and bishops urged for alliances to move more women in the church's leadership positions and transform the church.

There, Jefferts Schori encouraged curiosity and creativity and other qualities that have to do with "being dissatisfied with the conventional wisdom."

The gathering "Imagine: Claiming and Empowering Ordained Women's Leadership" Conference concluded on Friday in Hendersonville, N.C.