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U.S. Episcopal Bishop Visits Chapel Hill to Honor First Black Woman Priest

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Rev. Pauli  Murray
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Layers of race and religion converged today at an Episcopal church in Chapel Hill.

The presiding Episcopal bishop in the United States came to honor a civil rights pioneer. The event tied two clergywomen’s stories from the past and present.

Katharine Jefforts Schori is the nation's first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal church. Rev. Pauli Murray was the nation's first female African American to become an Episcopal priest. The bishop Thursday came to pay tribute to the priest.

Before her death in 1985, Pauli Murray was instrumental in civil rights and women's rights. But she also had another calling: the church. Shortly after her historic ordination, she celebrated her first holy communion at the Chapel of the Cross, in front of the altar where her grandmother had been baptized when she was a slave.

Thursday, Schori acknowledged a debt.

“I know that I stand here today only because she stood here before me,” the bishop told a service in the stone church on East Franklin Street.

Pauli Murray grew up in Durham. She was denied admission to the University of North Carolina because of her race and to Harvard University because of her gender. But she persevered in careers serving both people and God.


Scott Mason, Reporter
Ron Gallagher, Web Editor

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