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IRD: New Episcopal Bishop Fails to Bridge Gap Within Splintering Church

Contact: Loralei Coyle, The Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131


WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 /Christian Newswire/ -- Katharine Jefferts Schori, former Bishop of Nevada, was invested as Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC) at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC, on Saturday, November 4, 2006. Her nine-year term began on November 1. On Sunday, November 5 she was seated in the cathedral and presided over the All Saints Sunday service held that morning.


IRD President, Jim Tonkowich released the following statement:


"Sadly, Bishop Jefferts Schori's investiture may exacerbate tensions already existing in the Anglican Communion, which is still deeply wounded as a result of TEC's actions in consecrating an openly gay bishop and approving same-sex blessings as a local option subject to the approval of the diocesan bishop.


"As Bishop of a small diocese that failed to show any substantial growth in attendance, despite being located in the fastest growing state in the Nation, it is unclear how Schori is prepared to address the same problems taking place in the wider Episcopal Church from her new national office.


"The new Presiding Bishop’s embrace of universalist language and progressive policies like gay ordination proved unsuccessful at attracting Nevada’s booming population. There is little indication they will meet with warmer reception nationwide."


IRD Anglican Action Director Ralph Webb commented:


"While the bishop is meant to be a symbol of unity for the entire church, Bishop Jefferts Schori has continually made comments that make orthodox Anglicans feel less and less a part of TEC. She has made comments concerning 'Mother Jesus,' repeatedly expressed her conviction that Jesus Christ is one of many ways to salvation, and communicated her vision for the mission of the church with progressive social justice terminology.


"All of this has not helped heal a rapidly splintering church, and seven dioceses have requested some form of alternative oversight. It's true that Bishop Jefferts Schori has been praised as someone warmhearted and adept at building bridges with those who disagree with her. In the week before her investiture, however, she threatened two of the dioceses over the language of their constitutions and canons.


"So far, orthodox Anglicans really have not seen those characteristics of her for which she has been praised. We hope we will soon since TEC is bleeding profusely from a self-inflicted wound that has spread to impact the Anglican Communion worldwide."


The Institute on Religion and Democracy, founded in 1981, is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches’ social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.