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of Robert Christopher Wright as Tenth Bishop of Atlanta, Georgia,
Ordination of Robert Christopher Wright as 10th Bishop of Atlanta,
Luther King Jr International Chapel, Morehouse College,
Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Episcopal Church, Diocese
The chapel is a contemporary brick building in keeping with
the overall design of other buildings on campus. It dates from
1978 and serves as the college's main auditorium.
College is the only all-male liberal arts college for black
men in the United States, and one of only three colleges in
the country that are still all-male. Founded in 1867 as the
Augusta Institute, Morehouse is the alma mater of many African-American
leaders, including Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, filmmaker Spike
Lee, actor Samuel L. Jackson, Olympic gold medallist Edwin Moses,
the first African-American mayor of Atlanta, Maynard Jackson,
and many others. The Martin Luther King Jr International Chapel
has been the site of various events of note pertinent to the
American civil rights movement. Many of the world’s most
prominent civil and human rights advocates have been honored
and/or have spoken here.
Morehouse is located on a 61 acre campus near downtown Atlanta.
The campus is a pleasant green oasis with lots of flowers and
Chief consecrator was the Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori,
Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. Co-consecrators
were the Rt Revd J. Neil Alexander, Ninth Bishop of Atlanta,
and the Rt Revd Michael S. Curry, Bishop of North Carolina.
There were over 20 other consecrating bishops, including the
Rt Revd Jane Dixon, retired Bishop Suffragan of Washington,
who had ordained Wright to the priesthood in 1999; and the Rt
Revd H. J. Gordy, Lutheran Bishop of Atlanta. The Hon. Revd
Andrew Young, former United States Ambassador to the United
Nations, former congressman and mayor of Atlanta, and former
president of the National Council of Churches, preached. The
Revd Lawrence Carter, Dean of the Martin Luther King Jr International
Chapel, spoke the welcome.
The date & time:
October 13, 2012, at 11.00am.
have received a comment
on this report.
What was the name of the
The Ordination of the Tenth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese
of Atlanta. Robert Wright is the first African-American to become
an Episcopal bishop in Georgia.
How full was the building?
The chapel seats slightly more than 2500. By the time I got
there about one and one-half hours before the scheduled start
time, it was already half full. By the time the pre-service
music started (10.30) it was packed.
Did anyone welcome you
A priest on his way from the clergy staging area saw me and pointed me in the right direction. He was very pleasant and welcoming.
Was your pew comfortable?
The chapel had theater seats. They were fairly comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service
It was an atmosphere of excitement. The various musicians were
practicing, including the choirs of four Episcopal schools and
a 300+ adult choir assembled from 52 churches. While this was
going on, people were talking amongst each other as the auditorium
was being filled.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good morning. Welcome to the Martin Luther King Jr International
What books did the congregation use during the
There was a complete ordinal that followed the rubrics for the
ordination of bishops and the holy eucharist.
What musical instruments
Organ, a brass ensemble, steel drums, a jazz trio, timpani.
In addition to the choirs there were featured soloists. The
organ, an opus of the Wicks Pipe Organ Company of Highland,
Illinois, was dedicated in 1982 and at the time was one of the
largest pipe organs in the South and the second largest in Atlanta.
Did anything distract
The usual array of crying babies. But the most distracting thing
was the small child in the row in front of me. It was a long
service and she couldn't seem to sit still. She wiggled and
whined during the entire service, but she was pleasant during
the peace. There was a notable pause (accompanied by light-hearted
laughter) as one parent took an increasingly impetuous child
out of the auditorium. Distracting, but not overly so.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
The service was a good balance of happy-clappy and stiff-upper-lip.
This was reflected most notably in the range of music that was
selected: gospel, choral anthems, hymns, and spirituals. Interspersed
throughout the service were contemporary gospel songs that were
performed with acoustic piano, bass guitar, and drum kit. During
the peace, there was a steel drum band playing in the foyer
and audio was being piped into the auditorium. As a Pentecostal,
I was very impressed to see all the Episcopalians rocking and
swaying to a rousing rendition of Judy Jacobs' "Days of
Elijah". Scripture readings were given in English, Haitian-Creole,
Karen (a Burmese dialect), and Spanish. I think the most solemn
parts of the service were the presentation, the litany for ordination,
and the actual consecration. It seemed like the air was thick
as the brother and sister bishops gathered around the bishop-elect
and we all prayed in silence. But as the presiding bishop was
presenting Bishop Wright with his symbols of office, the congregation
began to applaud. Bishop Jefferts Schori put up her hand in
an attempt to call for silence, but after a while she just gave
Exactly how long was the
Perhaps about 10 minutes. Certainly no more than 20.
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
8 The Revd Young's sermon was narrative and anecdotal.
He didn't speak to any of the scripture readings or a biblical
text at all.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
It was almost exclusively directed to the bishop-elect. He described
his experiences with two bishops in the Anglican communion,
one of whom was Desmond Tutu. There were references to race
and reconciliation. He told the new bishop that he was assuming
his duties during a time of great turmoil, but that he should
remember the words of the old hymn: "On Christ, the solid
rock, I stand. All other ground is sinking sand."
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
The wonderful singing, the sense that we were all worshipping
as a community of faith, the emphasis on the Holy Spirit's work
in the world.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
During the peace and the offertory, I decided to make a trip
to the restroom. It was like a stampede. The steel drum band
was in the foyer and made the space very narrow, making the
wait even longer. While waiting, I was tapped on the shoulder
and asked to contribute a sound bite for the camera.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I didn't have time to stand and look lost. Everyone came outside,
and immediately clergy were walking up to me introducing themselves.
When I told them I was a Pentecostal minister, they welcomed
me to the Episcopal Church. One priest told me she'd work with
me and that I already had the clothes, so why not? Other than
that, there were a lot of people around the new bishop taking
pictures, mostly people from his former parish.
How would you describe the after-service
I do believe they had light refreshments, though I didn't partake. I do recall seeing cookies of some sort.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
N/A This was not the type of service that would lend
itself to being made one's regular. Furthermore, although I
found the day's events impressive and moving, this is not my
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
This service absolutely made me feel glad to be a Christian.
It was beautiful and well-planned. The atmosphere in the auditorium
was one of happiness. The music was simply amazing. It was an
honor to be present at this historic moment for the Church and
for the South.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
These will center around Bishop Jefferts Schori. Her foiled
attempt to silence the crowd was second to her rocking and swaying
during the lively offertory music. I was impressed that she
was swaying on the beat.
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