New U.S. primate calls faithful to ‘sainthood’

Published December 1, 2006

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori greets well-wishers after her investiture Nov. 4 as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. She is the first woman to head a province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Thousands braved the cold weather Nov. 4 in Washington, D.C., to witness the installation service of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States and the first woman to head a province in the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Schori, 52, officially took her seat in Washington’s National Cathedral a day after her investiture, in a festive All Saints Sunday Eucharist during which she called Episcopalians to sainthood.

“Saints are those who are vulnerable to the gut-wrenching pain of this world,” she said in her sermon. “Some of us have to be seized by the throat or thrown into the tomb before we can find that depth of compassion. And perhaps, unless we are, we won’t leave our comfortable narrow lives – or our remarkably nasty ones – to wake up and begin to answer that pain.”

She also urged the 2.4-million member church to recommit itself to the concept of “shalom” (Hebrew for peace). She said, “Shalom means all human beings live together as siblings, at peace with one another and with God, and in right relationship with all of the rest of creation.”  

Bishop Schori also made reference to recent disputes within the American church over issues such as the ordination of homosexual clergy and her own election. (Eight out of 110 American bishops have said they will not support her and are seeking alternative episcopal oversight from a male archbishop.)

[pullquote]”If some in this church feel wounded by recent decisions, then our salvation, our health as a body, is at some hazard, and it becomes the duty of all of us to seek healing and wholeness,” she said.  

Some of Bishop Schori’s fellow primates (bishops heading Anglican provinces) within the Anglican Communion have also stated that they will not recognize her when she attends a meeting of primates scheduled in February. In response, Bishop Schori sent a letter seeking a dialogue with these primates, stating, “I deeply value the possibilities we have in the Anglican Communion for addressing the mission God has given us to reconcile the world he has created.” The letters were addressed to Archbishops Peter Akinola (Nigeria), Drexel Gomez (West Indies), Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya) and Justice Akrofi (West Africa).

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams sent John Saxbee, bishop of Lincoln, to represent him in the installation. Earlier in November, Bishop Schori and Bishop Frank Griswold, her predecessor, held a 90-minute private meeting with Archbishop Williams at Lambeth Palace.

The Anglican Church of Canada was represented at the service by the primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, and three bishops – Michael Ingham (bishop of New Westminster), Colin Johnson (diocesan bishop of Toronto) and Philip Poole (suffragan bishop of Toronto).


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