Bishop Browning began his ministry as a priest in Texas in 1956, moving from there to Okinawa where he was consecrated the first Missionary Bishop of Okinawa in 1968.
He remained in that post until May 16, 1971, when he left Japan for Nice to assume the post of Bishop of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe. As bishop in Europe, Browning had jurisdiction over Episcopal churches in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy and France.
Browning returned to the United States in June 1974 to work at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City as Executive for National and World Mission on the Executive Council of the Church. In 1976, he was elected Bishop of Hawaii and was installed on August 1 of that year.
On September 19, 1985, Browning was elected to succeed the Most Reverend John Maury Allin as Presiding Bishop. His election to the 12-year term came on the fourth ballot of the House of Bishops and was ratified overwhelmingly by a voice vote of the House of Deputies.
Shortly after his election, Browning said of his vision for the Episcopal Church, “There are tremendous global issues that face us all. My hope is that the Church can continue to hold these issues before the full membership, as well as society, to bring about some well-being for all. I think the Church has a role in being both prophetic in holding up issues, and using all its influences to try to bring about better conditions for the poor, the hungry, both in this country as well as in the global village.” He later added, “there will be no outcasts in the Church.”
“The Episcopal Church is faithfully seeking to truly become, ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as Jesus said quoting the Hebrew prophets, and that is greatly the case because Presiding Bishop Browning taught us that the church must be a place where there are no outcasts,” commented the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop. “That enduring legacy is still helping to set many a captive free. It is evidence that God is not finished with us yet, for every once in a while spiritual giants still walk among us as living reminders. And one of those reminders was Edmund Lee Browning, 24th Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. Well done good and faithful servant. May you rest in peace and rise in glory.”
Bishop Browning was married to Patricia Alline Sparks in 1953. They had five children: Mark, Philip, Paige, Peter, John.
A Memorial Service will be held at Trinity Cathedral on Tuesday, July 19 at 2:00 pm. The Most Rev. Michael Curry, current presiding bishop, will officiate. A reception will follow in Kempton Hall. All are welcome.