Sunday, June 18, 2006

Katharine Jefferts Schori elected first female presiding bishop

Here's the Yahoo News article: Episcopalians elect first female leader

This page of the Episcopal News Service has videos with interview excerpts of the seven nominees who were considered. Below you can find the transcript of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's remarks.

"My journey as a person of faith, trained as a scientist, began in some struggle over how to understand the two of them together. One of the pieces that has been most important for me, or that was important in beginning to reconcile the two came in reading some of the scientists who talked about mystery--Heisenberg and Einstein and Bohr. Suddenly I began to recognize that people who'd been trained as I had, also *delighted* almost, in the rich, mysteriousness of all of creation. We don't know all of the answers as people of faith or as scientists. We *don't* know all the answers. They are both ways of looking at the wonder of creation. One of my favorite prayers comes after baptism, when we pray that the newly baptized will have "the gift of joy and wonder in all God's works". They're wondering in wondrous ways of looking at the environment in which we are set as human beings.
The most important priorities for the next Presiding Bishop have to do with calling us back to the center point of our mission. God calls us to build a community that looks more like the city of Shalom--the city built on a hill. The reign of God. I look around--I don't see that in very many places. I see signs of hope, I see glimpses of it, but clearly we've got work to do.

The conversation around the Communion is so focused now, at least at the highest levels on issues of human sexuality that we are ignoring our brothers and sisters around the world who are dying of hunger, who are dying because there are no vaccines for their children, who are dying because there are inadequate stocks of AIDS drugs. Those ought to be our priorities, not bickering about matters of doctrine.

The Presiding Bishop has an ability to call this whole church to claim the wonderful richnesses of God's creations, the gifts of all human beings, whatever color they are, whatever language they speak, whatever country they live in, to build that reign of God. The next Presiding Bishop has an ability to hold out the vision of the Millennium Development Goals as a concrete image of what Isaiah's dream looks like. What it means to feed people--to feed the one third of the world's population who don't have enough to eat every day, to insure that girls and boys around the world have access to education, that mothers have adequate prenatal health care so that healthy children are born, that there's clean water, that there is adequate sanitation, that there are structures put in place to promote ongoing productive development around the globe.

To be that kind of energy and engine in making those Millennium Development Goals come to reality. I think that's the centerpiece of what the next Presiding Bishop has to call us to.

The last General Convention was for me, and for many of my brothers and sisters in the House of Bishops, I think the culmination of years of thought and prayer and study. I've been wrestling with the issue of homosexuality and what it means for twenty years...twenty-five years. As a scientist, I look at creation, I see the diversity of God's creation, and, not just in the human order, but in the rest of creation, begin to see a variety. God created in Genesis and God spoke goodness.

When the people of New Hampshire elected Gene Robinson to be their bishop, they discerned gifts in that man, in that priest, in that person they had known for better than twenty years--they discerned gifts that fit what they believed the Diocese of New Hampshire needed.

When we came to General Convention last summer, clearly we were going to be faced with a challenging decision. My recollection of that afternoon when we sat in the House of Bishops to vote to consent to Gene Robinson's election was of a--I have two vivid memories. One of recalling the place in the Gospels where Jesus encounters the woman taken in adultury, and he leans down and writes in the sand, and then he says, "Go, and sin no more." What did he write in the sand? All of us would like to know!

The other memory I have is of feeling absolutely crucified in having to come to a place of making a decision like this, because I can see good on both sides. I see good gifts in Gene Robinson, I see good gifts in the calling of him to be the Bishop of New Hampshire, and I see a wonderfully blessed ministry there.

On the other hand, I see the pain that this has caused around this church and around the Communion, because people don't understand how this piece could come to be. I think we made the right decision, I think we have lots more work to do, I think we have lots more consultation and bridge-building to do with our brothers and sisters around the globe."
I find my spiritual center in this time, as in all times, in two places. One, from the Psalms, where it talks about "in rest and refreshment we shall be saved". Taking Sabbath, knowing time of stillness, is absolutely essential to my health. The other piece comes from Isaiah, and several places in Isaiah, where he sets out a vision of what the ideal of creation is. One that's often heard at funerals, where he talks about the banquet, the festal banquet set on the side of a mountain. Of rich foods, of well-aged wines, strained clear, that are meant for everyone. And the other piece where he sets out a vision of what the city of Shalom looks like, where the hungry are fed, the blind have their sight restored, the prisoners are released, good news is preached to the poor. Our call is to participate in those realities, and to make them realities for the whole world."

Here's what Father Jake had to say on his blog:

A couple of initial thoughts: Bishop Jefferts Schori was trained as a scientist. She is the only one that I can recall that emphasized the Millennium Development Goals in the interviews. She was also the only bishop who testified at the hearings regarding the MDG. As these goals appear to be emerging as the future vision of the Episcopal Church, she is the right person at the right time.

Absolutely no one I talked to before the election had predicted this. What a wonderful surprise. The Deputies are absolutely elated. Eveything happening here is begininng to stream together.

The Spirit is moving among us. God is doing a new thing in Columbus.

I need to go offer a prayer of thanksgiving.

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