Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Response from the Presiding Bishop

Following the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the newest presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, several dioceses announced their intent to request "alternative primatial oversight" from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Others have gone a step further, announcing that they would be leaving the church altogether and aligning with other Anglican communions -- particularly the 9-million member Anglican Church of Uganda. The bishop has made clear her feelings of sadness over the course the Episcopal church has taken in recent years -- with schism continuing to be a very real possibility -- and I was curious to see how she would begin to address the bishops who were seeking other oversight or a move out of the church altogether.

The Diocese of San Joaquin, California, is one that has drawn a great deal of attention during this time, as it was one of the earliest to announce its intention of joining with the Ugandan communion. In the short term, it will be a painful split, and will undoubtedly result in a great deal of pain and a great deal of anger for thousands of California Episcopalians; in the long term, there will be long and difficult court cases over the ownership of church property and funds. I've been curious as to how the presiding bishop would address this issue -- and this letter that she just sent to the bishop of San Joaquin I think makes clear that -- as a pastor -- she will continue to seek a reconciliation for the church. However, as an administrator with responsibilities to the whole Episcopal church, she gives no sign of backing down from the fight.

"San Joaquin bishop sent letter from presiding bishop" -- Episcopal News Service, November 20, 2006

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