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Atlanta Episcopal Diocese Elects First African-American Bishop as Leader

The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta elected its 10th bishop, and first African American leader, on Saturday.

The Very Rev. Robert C. “Rob” Wright, 48, will take over as leader in Atlanta, the ninth largest among the Episcopal Church’s 110 dioceses, in October. The Atlanta diocese, which covers middle and north Georgia, has 96 parishes and 52,000 members.

“I think the biggest challenge for us and all of mainstream Christianity is to begin to talk about the good news of Jesus Christ and what his message means in the 21st century,” Wright said Saturday. He said he will be ready to partner with Episcopalians across the diocese and to reach out to all generations, especially the young.

Wright has been rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Peyton Road in southwest Atlanta for 10 years and is dean of the diocese’s Mid-Atlantic Convocation.

The diocese’s current bishop, J. Neil Alexander, is stepping down in October to join Emory University as a professor of liturgics and leader of the university’s Department of Anglican Studies at Candler School of Theology. Alexander, 58, has served as bishop for 11 years.

Wright is a Howard University and Virginia Theological Seminary graduate who served in the Navy as a helicopter crew chief and search-and-rescue diver. He is a former canon pastor and vicar at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, a former chaplain at the Cathedral School in New York City and a former chaplain for the Washington, D.C. jail.

The diocese said Wright will be ordained as bishop Oct. 13 at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta by Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Source: Christopher Seward, AJC

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