By David W. Virtue
June 14, 2010

The Presiding Bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori is traveling the globe shoring up her base of support among liberal Anglican provinces for what many believe is a back-up plan to exit the communion should the Archbishop of Canterbury take the logical step of not inviting her to the next meeting of the Anglican Primates.

Recently, Dr. Rowan Williams called on those provinces in the Anglican Communion who had formally broken one of the three moratoria called for by the Windsor Report and the last Lambeth Conference to have their representatives removed from certain inter Anglican ecumenical commissions since they no longer represent the mind of the Communion. (The moratoria called for were the cessation of: same-sex blessings, the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals, and cross-border interventions.)

Angered at his Pentecost message, the Presiding Bishop fired back with her own continuing Pentecost message in response to both the archbishop’s letter and the subsequent removal of Episcopal representatives. She wrote that efforts to “impose a singular understanding in such matters represent the same kind of cultural excesses practiced by many of our colonial forebears in their missionizing activity.”

Jefferts Schori then flew to Halifax, Canada, to attend the Anglican Church of Canada Synod where she delivered much the same message to the Canadian Church: “I don’t think it helps dialogue to remove some people from the conversation.” She said their removal misrepresents what the Anglican Communion is. She also described disciplinary actions by the Archbishop of Canterbury as “colonial” and a “push toward centralized authority.”

From Halifax, she flew to England, where she gave the first of two back-to-back appearances. Jefferts Schori spoke first in a keynote address to USPG (United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) in Swanwick and then to the Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod in Edinburgh.

At both events, she reiterated who and what TEC is and its own franchise operation.

Here is the essence of what she said: “We’ve struggled with what to call ourselves because ECUSA (Episcopal Church in the United States) is not accurate. At this point ‘The Episcopal Church’ seems most apt even though there are other Episcopal Churches in the Anglican Communion: Jerusalem in the Middle East (the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East); Sudan (the Episcopal Church of the Sudan); Scotland, The Scottish Episcopal Church); Philippines (The Episcopal Church in the Philippines); Cuba (Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba).

“The Episcopal Church includes churches in 16 nations … in Taiwan, in Micronesia, Honduras, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, Haiti is our biggest diocese; the Dominican Republic, the British and US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and in The Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. The Episcopal Church also serves many indigenous nations both in North America and abroad, particularly in Latin America.”

Why do we repeatedly need to hear about TEC’s franchise? Frank Griswold never laid out what TEC owned or didn’t own. Perhaps he didn’t care or think it was necessary. Clearly PB Jefferts Schori does.

She went on, “We continue in formal covenant relationships with Provinces of the Anglican Communion that were once part of The Episcopal Church: Mexico, IARCA, — which is the Church in Central America — Liberia, the Philippians, and Brazil. We’re involved in mission partnership with most other parts of the Anglican Communion — at the diocesan, parish and provincial levels.

“We are in full communion relationship with Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and in Europe we’re in full communion relationship with the Old Catholics.” Why do we need to know this?

“We celebrate in official companion relationships with four of your dioceses: Aberdeen and Orkney with Connecticut; Argyll and the Isles with Delaware; Brechin with Iowa; and Glasgow and Galloway with Kentucky. We would welcome opportunities with other dioceses.” Why is it important to tell us this? She did in Jamaica at at ACC-14 meeting in 2009.

Jefferts Schori continued to London and Southwark Cathedral where a group of Evangelicals blasted her for making an appearance that really was designed to do nothing more than embarrass the Archbishop of Canterbury.

She spared us the litany of TEC’s global ownership, but took a swipe at the exclusion of practicing homosexuals from the wider body of the communion when she stated, “Those who know the deep acceptance and love that come with healing and forgiveness can lose the defensive veneer that wants to shut out other sinners. There’s room for us all at this table, there are tears of welcome and a kiss for the wanderer, and the sweet smell of home.”

Now VOL has learned that at the end of June, Jefferts Schori will visit Christchurch, New Zealand, and then go on to Australia. She is on a one-person ecumenical tour.

According to a trustworthy blog, she asked the two Primates of both provinces if she could stop over briefly in New Zealand on her way west. In the North Island, she will visit Auckland, specifically St. John’s College, and in Christchurch, she will be hosted primarily by Bishop John Gray.

These are very liberal institutions and dioceses. Only the Diocese of Nelson (New Zealand) is orthodox. VOL has learned that “hard details” of meetings have only recently been firmed up. Her visit to Christchurch is through an invitation from Pihopa John Gray, Bishop of Te Wai Pounamu (South Island). Te Wai Pounamu, host to her visit, has organized her meetings.

(Close on her heels is another episcopal visitor, Bishop Graham Cray of the Church of England, a progressive evangelical type who is coming at the invitation of the Diocese of Christchurch to lead two conferences on Fresh Expressions – New Anglican Expressions of Church.)

The announcement of her appearance came from Bishop Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Christchurch.

Matthews is the former Bishop of Edmonton, Canada, who signaled her support for the blessing of gay marriages, but was not expected to break with tradition over the issue. She is a Jefferts Schori supporter. The unanswered question for Australian readers of VOL is where and with whom is the Presiding Bishop visiting in Australia?

To whom is she talking? There is little doubt she would get clearance from liberal leaning Primate Philip Aspinall, Archbishop of Brisbane. However, you can be sure she would not be welcome in either the diocese of Sydney or Melbourne (and possibly Adelaide).

What we are seeing is the global mission of TEC expanding, in successive weeks, from Canada, Scotland, England, Aotearoa New Zealand, and Australia.

The real question is why and where is all this going now that GAFCON/FCA is a reality and ACNA is nipping daily at the heels of a dying Episcopal Church.

David Hein, who teaches religious history at Hood College in Maryland said, “A path has been chosen. It seems [Jefferts Schori] has prepared to pack her bags and go off on her own.”


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