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The Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of NC, to Address the 131st ECW Annual Meeting

Bishop Anne Hodges-Copple on her first church visit as a bishop and wearing the vestments given to her by the ECW in NCOn the morning of June 15, 2013, the Diocese of North Carolina ordained the Rt. Rev. Anne Elliott Hodges-Copple as its sixth Bishop Suffragan and the first female bishop in Province IV. Over 1,400 people attended or participated in the service, held in the historic Duke Chapel on the campus of Duke University in Durham. Formerly the rector of St. Luke’s, Durham, Bishop Hodges-Copple was elected at the 197th Annual Convention out of a field of five candidates on January 25, 2013.

In her new role, Bishop Hodges-Copple will assist Bishop Curry in leading the Diocese into Galilee by focusing especially on ministry in higher education, young adult ministry, ministry among 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.

Bishop 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, when consecrated in 1918, became the first black bishop to serve the Diocese. As the Bishop Suffragan, Bishop Hodges-Copple will assist the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, Bishop of North Carolina, in leading the Diocese into what he has termed “21st-century Galilee,” or the diverse modern world in which we live.

Formerly the rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Durham, Bishop Hodges-Copple also 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.

Her consecrators included the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church; Bishop Curry; the Rt. Rev. Gary Gloster, Bishop Hodges-Copple’s predecessor as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of North Carolina (1996-2007); the Rt. Rev. Scott Benhase, Bishop of Georgia and former rector of St. Philip’s, Durham; and the Rt. Rev. Susan Goff, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Virginia.

Bishop Hodges-Copple’s consecration featured many important symbols of her office. Her brightly colored vestments, for example, feature images of water, grain, grapes and wind and serve as expressions of our sacramental life. The handmade walnut crosier she received belonged to the Rt. Rev. Huntington Williams, Jr, Bishop Suffragan of North Carolina, 1985-1989, and is a gift from Bishop Williams’ family.

The people involved in the service also have special meaning for Bishop Hodges-Copple. Her husband, John Hodges-Copple, 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 Bishop Hodges-Copple with her mitre. Her children, siblings, nieces and nephews all also played important roles.

Duke Chapel also holds special significance for Bishop 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.