The 26th Presiding Bishop

The 26th Presiding Bishop
Katharine Jefferts Schori

There it is in a nutshell.

This Episcopal Church has indeed done something catholic, evangelical and revolutionary, all in one.

Electing women and men as bishops is catholic, even if all Catholics can’t bring themselves to think of women in that role, for catholicity is a function of baptismal call.

Electing women and men as bishops is evangelical, even if all Evangelicals can’t abide bishops all that easily, for bishops are our evangelical tool and this election says something quite mighty about the good news of God’s working in the life of the Church.

Electing a women who is a bishop as our primary bishop, as the head of the church is revolutionary, even if revolutionary change is always suspicious of hierarchy, be it patriarchal or matriarchal. In electing Bishop Schori there is the momentary possibility of revolutionary engagement with a principle that permeates even the greatest of hierarchical schemes.

That principle is that of inverse proportionality, a favorite of Jesus: “let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” Luke 22:25-26, RSV. Bishop Schori is among the newer of the bishops. She is a woman. Until recently no catholic or evangelical minded body would have chosen her, but here she is.

Inverse proportionality: the proposition that the least will be greatest, and the greatest least. If she brings that extraordinary news into the gatherings of the primates, she will meet the reverberations of similar feelings from others. Who among the primates does not have that sense? We heard from the Archbishop of York that he never imagined that the Ugandan baby who almost died in poverty might one day become the Archbishop of York. We know it in the wonderful rise to the office of Primate in many parts of the world by people of low position and devalued status. And here, in one fell swoop, the Bishops of this Church chose a woman to preside over them and guide us all. There is here a possible revolutionary, catholic and evangelical moment.

It was a grace filled occasion. Having served on the Joint Nominating Committee I was overjoyed that the candidates we had chosen were so well received, and that it remained clear that Bishop Schori was no token anything, but indeed catholic, evangelican and revolutionary.

Now it is time to go to work making her ministry in this office a blessing to her and to all of us.


  1. Amen...I feel Blessed with the election of Bishop Schori and I thank you Mark for all that you do to help our Episcopal Church find the way...we keep gaining on the clarity of "Gods will for us" I feel certain...thank you again for doing lots of the work that brings beautiful "opportunities" into being.

    Leonardo Ricardo (forgot his sign-in stuff...again)

  2. Mark+, I too thank you for all your good service to our Church, in this Nominating Ctte and on the Special Commission. WOW! What a year you have had.

    When a friend called me today, having heard the news of this Bishop's election, I was astonished ... dumbstruck ... speechless.

    I didn't think it could get any better than GC 03, but now you've gone and done it! Thank you!!

    So ... get reflective now. What do you think this is going to mean now to the other Anglican churches? It's my hunch that their unease with +VGR will be just a pale shadow compared to their having to deal with a woman as primate of TEC, sitting alongside them at Lambeth and the Primates' meeting. How do you see this playing out??

  3. I expect that there will be responses, Lisa. Remember that those who were upset with us over GLBT justice were already upset with us over justice regarding women. There will be some who will indeed see this as an affront, if not a direct confrontation.

    However, I don't think it's a confrontation. It is, for its very unlikeliness, as sign of the Spirit. If most will take Gamaliel's choice ("Watch and see. If it's of God, you won't be able to stop it." From The Acts of the Apostles), I think they will discover the fruits of the Spirit demonstrated clearly enough.

  4. Now it is time to go to work making her ministry in this office a blessing to her and to all of us.


    It's not enough to acclaim her, we must HELP her (both ora AND labora).

    She's gonna need it! ;-)

  5. Marshall, I would like to believe that's how the other Primates would respond. I would like to think they would wait and trust in the fruits of the Spirit. But I just don't see it happening. Clearly, they were not willing to do so with +New Hampshire. :(

    In view of all those who don't even believe women's orders can be valid, I think this may be the headliner for them. And I have a hunch it may make all the other Windsor-related resolutions moot.

    What an interesting GC!

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  7. Kevin,

    I agree! Scripture cuts both ways. . .here are two passages that sprung to mind as I read Robert Duncan's response to the election on the ACN website.

    Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword."
    Matthew 10:34

    Jesus looked at the people and said, "What then does this text mean: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone'? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls."
    Luke 20:17-18 (quoting Psalm 118:22)

    The election of Presiding Bishop Schori poses a significant problem. . .perhaps a cornerstone to fall on. . .or one that is falling. . .on the Network.

  8. To be evangelical you need the evangel. And to have the good news, you need the bad news.

    "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross."

  9. I think this is a mighty blow for quite a few.

    Note that the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has tried severally by written message and by envoys to influence the GC, has not managed to cough up a press release on the election of the new PB.

    Copying the old one, with the name changed, would have done - but no.


  10. Read this:


    (but don't believe all of it!)

  11. HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother is reported to have remarked to a religious dignitary from overseas who was seated next to her at dinner, "My daughter is Supreme Governor of the Church of England - Isn't it fun?"

    Well, our next Presiding Bishop is a woman oceanographer - Isn't it fun!

    And I doubt that Queen Elizabeth II will be "incensed" (as some are already postulating) by our election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop. Queen Elizabeth II repeatedly lets her Commonwealth Realms know that they are free to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to retain the monarchy. I'm sure that gracious attitude extends to those of us in the USA regarding our selection of a PB.

    And who cares if The Queen is incensed, anyway? My own parish helped kick her great-great-great-great Grandfather's behind back to England in 1776 (ummm, we still use the communion cup he gave our parish, though!) and the communion managed to survive even that.

  12. Yeah, I said Don't believe it all ;=)

    But it's typical of a certain mentality to drop names, the bigger the better, in defence of one's own points of views...

    I'm sure the Queen will be delighted.

  13. The Archbishop of Canterbury has just sent ++Katharine his "prayers and good wishes."

  14. (Dave)
    This is one conservative who has no problem with the election of a woman as PB. I am far more concerned with what she believes and from what I have read, she has the same objectionable positions as her predecessor.

  15. *dances*

    If'n there's one thing I've learned in my studies of this thing we call humanity, it's that you can't please all of the people all of the time. Whomever we elected was going to piss someone off.

    And me, being the resolute contrarian that I am, I am giggling so hard.



  16. Iker has just appealed to ++Rowan for "alternative primatial oversight." It seems likely that other Nutwork dioceses will follow suit.

    I think this might be a good thing, because while they have gotten a lot of mileage out of presenting themselves an antigay, they are now on record as being anti-woman. That position probably will not go over very well at all, considering how many women are among the "reasserter" crowd and how many "reassters," like Duncan, believe in women's ordination.

    I see a split coming among the "orthodox."

  17. Ditto to Dave's comments.


  18. Alternative Primatial Oversight...

    hmmm...the acronym for that would be...ALPO?



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