The election of Nevada’s Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to head the Episcopal Church, the U.S. arm of the Anglican Church, quickly produced dissension in the church.
Time magazine observed, “The surprise election Sunday of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada to Presiding Bishop of the Episcopalian Church USA can be seen from many different angles, but none of them bodes particularly well for its continued relationship with its global extended family, the 77 million member Anglican Communion.”
The London Times reported Monday, “The Anglican Church descended into ‘ecclesiastical anarchy’ last night as American traditionalists refused to accept the authority of a woman and asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to lead them instead. Liberals celebrated the election of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church while the traditionalist Fort Worth Diocese appealed to Dr Rowan Williams for ‘alternative primatial oversight'.”
The unexpected election of Schori produced heavy news coverage (Salon: “It’s a girl!”) that focused on previous divisions within the church, particularly those involving homosexuality. Bishop Schori quickly entered the fray when she was asked Monday if homosexuality is a sin. “I don’t believe so,” she said. “I believe that God creates us with different gifts. Each one of us comes into this world with a different collection of things that challenge us and things that give us joy and allow us to bless the world around us.”
There are three Episcopal dioceses in the United States known to oppose a woman as head of the U.S. church. The Fort Worth church is one of them. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the church, has not yet responded.
The United States is the third Anglican province, after New Zealand and Canada, to elect a woman bishop. (See “15 minutes.”)