An Episcopal priest here in Metro Detroit is breaking multiple barriers.
Rev. Bonnie Perry’s ascendance to bishop is sending an important message to followers of the Episcopal Church around the world. She will be ordained Saturday morning as the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, and the first woman and openly gay person to hold the position.
She’s part of a cultural shift in the 184-year-old Episcopal Church that saw more women elected bishop this year than men. She’s ready to build on the legacies that came before her in Michigan including Coleman McGee, Stuart Woods and most recently Wendell Gibbs.
“Those are large, large shoes to fill and I have very small feet. But I figure I’ll walk fast,” Perry said.
The church is known for its legacy of inclusion.
“Jesus said almost nothing about homosexuality,” Perry said. “And don’t ever let anyone mistakenly say you can’t do this because of who you are. It means the world to me. And what I’m going to do is honor that responsibility and be the best bishop that I can possibly be,” Perry said.
She spent the last 27 years leading the All Saints Congregation in Chicago. But Michigan has always been on her radar and not just because she has kayaked every inland sea that touches the state.
She clearly is ready to put the weight of the church behind serious issues facing not just southeast Michigan, but the nation as a whole.
“Church can be a model,” Perry said.
The election process is interesting as well. She was one of four final candidates. To win you need 51% of the clergy and 51% of the lay people.
Perry said she was elected on the fifth ballot.