Episcopal Bishop pleased with new church leader

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(Host) Vermont’s Episcopal Bishop says he’s pleased by the election of the American church’s first woman leader.

Bishop Thomas Ely is leading a Vermont delegation at the church’s general convention underway this week in Columbus, Ohio.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports:

(Zind) Ely called the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the Episcopal Church’s next Presiding Bishop a great highlight.

He says Jefferts Schori brings much life experience to the job, even though she was ordained only 12 years ago.

Jefferts Schori’s election was questioned, though by some Episcopal leaders. They’re concerned she’ll be a polarizing figure because of her liberal views.

Jefferts Schori supported the election two years ago of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Robinson is the church’s first openly gay leader.

She also supports giving local churches the freedom to bless same sex unions.

Both issues have disturbed the more conservative worldwide Anglican Church which has asked U.S. and Canadian Episcopalians to agree to a moratorium on electing gay bishops and blessing same sex relationships.

But Ely says Jefferts Schori’s election was not meant to send a message on these issues.

(Ely) “We’re mindful that every decision we make has the possibility of being misinterpreted in the worldwide Anglican Communion, that our actions here are being watched very closely. But we can’t make every decision only through the lens of what others may think about it.”

(Zind) Ely says the new Presiding Bishop is someone who can work with others to help close the rift in the church.

He says resolutions being considered by delegates to the general convention will not resolve the division over gay bishops and same sex unions, but he hopes they’ll contribute to an ongoing dialogue with the Anglican Church.

(Ely) “Hopefully they’re a next step in the process that needs to continue in the next three, six, nine years.”

(Zind) Two years ago the Episcopal Church in Vermont became the second Episcopal diocese in the country to formally embrace the blessing of gay and lesbian unions.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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