Rhodes Alumna Dorothy Sanders Wells Makes History as Elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi

head and shoulder image of Dorothy Wells

Rhodes College alumna the Rev. Dr. Dorothy Sanders Wells made history Feb. 3 becoming the first woman and first Black person elected as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi.

Wells will replace Bishop Brian Seage, who has led the diocese since 2014. She will become Bishop elect on May 1, working alongside Seage, and then be ordained on July 20.

Originally from Mobile, AL,  Wells graduated from Rhodes with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. She said she counts her years at Rhodes as a transformative part of her life journey, adding that, “My professors challenged me to grow and become my best self, and I made lifelong friends during those four years. Rhodes clearly helped me become the person I am today.”

In addition, Wells was quoted in a Rhodes magazine as having observed, “A liberal arts education equipped me for life, with all of its changes and iterations.”

Wells went on to pursue and receive a juris doctor degree, and she practiced law for 18 years, first as a member of a local law firm and then as a corporate attorney for FedEx. She eventually enrolled in divinity school, and she currently is rector of St. George's Episcopal Church in Germantown, TN, where she is also chaplain of the church's preschool.

Wells also is active in the Memphis community, having served on the boards of directors of the Metropolitan Inter-faith Association (MIFA), Church Health, Community Alliance for the Homeless, and Room in the Inn-Memphis.

In addition, Wells has served on the Alumni Association Executive Board of Rhodes College, the Board of Directors of the Margaret Hyde Council of Rhodes College, and the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s Episcopal School. She received the Black Student Association’s Distinguished Alumna Award in 2011, and at Rhodes’ commencement in 2015, she was presented an Algernon Sydney Sullivan service award.