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For new Episcopal leader, courage is the key

Published November 3, 2006


NEW YORK - Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says she thought the odds she would be elected to lead the Episcopal Church were "ridiculous" - absolutely against her.

"I was a woman, fairly young, I hadn't been a bishop all that long, and I was serving a diocese that's not part of the Eastern establishment," Jefferts Schori said.

The surprise? She won anyway, in balloting at the Episcopal General Convention this June.

On Saturday, Jefferts Schori will be installed as presiding bishop at the National Cathedral in Washington, becoming the first female priest to lead a national church in the nearly 500-year-old Anglican Communion.

"The Bible is full of stories of the younger son being called and the outsider being called" by God to serve, she said. "I think courage is a central characteristic of leadership. If you're not willing to go into dangerous places, you have no business doing this work."

The perils for anyone leading the Episcopal Church right now are considerable.

The 2.3-million-member denomination is at the center of a worldwide Anglican feud over how to interpret what the Bible says about sexuality. In 2003, Jefferts Schori voted to confirm New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop. The uproar over his consecration is threatening to split the Anglican family, which the Episcopal Church represents in the United States.

[Last modified November 3, 2006, 02:16:47]

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