Episcopal presiding bishop to serve as Sunday chaplain


Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori. Submitted photo.

Mary Lee Talbot | Staff Writer

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church in the United States, will preach at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday worship service.

Jefferts Schori will also speak on her faith journey at the 5 p.m. Sunday Vespers Service at the Hall of Philosophy. Her sermon title is “Applied Ethics: Government and the Search for the Common Good.” Her text is Deuteronomy 10:17–21.

Jefferts Schori was elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in June 2006, according to an official biography. She serves as Chief Pastor and Primate to the Episcopal Church’s members in 16 countries and 110 dioceses. Jefferts Schori is the first woman to hold this office.

She joins with other principal bishops of the 38 member provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion, seeking to make common cause for global good and reconciliation. This is the first time a presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church has preached at Chautauqua.

The Presiding Bishop is the Chief Pastor and Primate of the Episcopal Church. The office evolved originally from a rule of the House of Bishops in 1789, making its presiding officer the senior member in terms of date of consecration. As a result of increased duties, the office was incorporated into the Constitution of the Church in 1901 and styled Presiding Bishop of the Church. In 1919, the office was made elective and invested with executive responsibility for all departments of the church’s work.

The first election of a Presiding Bishop by General Convention took place in 1925. Since 1943, the Presiding Bishop has been required to resign diocesan jurisdiction upon election. In 1967, the duties of the office were significantly enhanced.

As “Chief Pastor,” the Presiding Bishop is charged with initiating and developing church policy and strategy, speaking God’s Word to the church and the world and visiting every diocese of the church. The title “Primate” was added in 1982.

The Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Washington, D.C., is the official seat of the Presiding Bishop. The office of the Presiding Bishop is located at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City. The present term of office for the Presiding Bishop is nine years.

Over the course of her nine-year term, Jefferts Schori is responsible for initiating and developing policy for the Episcopal Church and speaks on behalf of this Church regarding the policies, strategies and programs authorized by General Convention. She has been vocal about the Episcopal Church’s mission priorities, including the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and issues of domestic poverty, climate change and care for the earth, as well as the ongoing need to contextualize the gospel. The Presiding Bishop is charged to speak God’s word to the Church and to the world.

Jefferts Schori’s career as an oceanographer preceded her studies for the priesthood, to which she was ordained in 1994. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Stanford University, a master’s degree and doctorate in oceanography from Oregon State University, a master of divinity from Church Divinity School of the Pacific and several honorary doctoral degrees. She remains an active, instrument-rated pilot — a skill she applied when traveling between the congregations of the Diocese of Nevada, where she was elected bishop in 2000 and ordained to the episcopate on February 24, 2001. At the time of her election as bishop of Nevada, she was a priest, university lecturer and hospice chaplain in Oregon.

Jefferts Schori grew up in the Seattle area and has spent most of her life in the West. She and her husband, Richard Miles Schori, a retired mathematician (topologist), were married in 1979. They have one daughter, who is a captain (pilot) in the U.S. Air Force.