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The Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris, the first woman to be ordained a bishop in the Anglican Communion to which the Episcopal Church belongs, will visit Utah March 26-28 and speak at free events open to the public.

The Rev. Harris, who is black, is no stranger to controversy. Her ministry developed in an unconventional fashion after she left a successful business career. Much of her preparation for ordination was done privately, with assistance from her bishop and other clerics. Her parish work has been less extensive than many other clerics.However, her supporters note her faith, social activism and commitment to the church make her eminently qualified to fill the role.

The Rev. Janet L. Swift, pastor of Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City, said she admires Harris but wouldn't want to be in Harris' place "because the eyes of the world are upon her" and the pressure must be extreme.

"I think she's going to do great things as a pioneer, but it's always going to be more difficult for her than the women who come behind her. If she does not fulfill the expectations of some people in the church, that's another arrow to be used against women, and I'm sure she's aware of it," the Rev. Swift said.

"I admire the strong stands she takes about the things she believes in - unpopular things like gay rights and being pro-choice. When you stand up for unpopular causes when you're a woman in a man's world, it takes a heck of a lot of courage.

"I visualize her as a woman of extremely strong faith," the Rev. Swift said.

The Rev. Harris' unorthodox theological training also may be used against her by critics, which is unfortunate, the Rev. Swift said.

The Rev. Harris will speak at 7 p.m. March 26 in the Gore Auditorium, Westminster College, 1840 S. 1300 East. On March 27, she will conduct a seminar at 11 a.m. in Nunemaker Place on campus.

She will preach at a 7 p.m. service of evensong on March 27 at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark, 231 E. 100 South. The public is invited.