Presiding Bishop announces she will not stand for reelection

Posted Sep 23, 2014

ens_092314_jeffertsSchori[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The following message is from Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:

To all the people of God in The Episcopal Church:

It is a great joy and privilege to serve as your Presiding Bishop.  I have been blessed to be able to meet and build relationships with people around the globe – in every diocese in this Church, most of the provinces of the Anglican Communion, our full communion partners (ELCA, Moravian Church, Old Catholics of the Union of Utrecht), as well as civic leaders and leaders of other denominations and faith traditions.  That relational work is fundamental to the reconciliation we seek in Christ.  As bridges are built, more and more people can begin to cross the divides between us, and God’s dream begins to take flesh in a more just and peaceful world.

Together, we have navigated a season of extraordinary change in recent years.  Our Christian values have been challenged and we are becoming clearer and more confident about the faith we share.  Today we are far more cognizant of the diversity of this multinational and multicultural Church, and the great blessing of the diverse peoples and cultures we represent.  Our life as a Church is enriched by the many gifts God has given us in people and contexts around the world.  Together we are striving to live out the Five Marks of Mission, we are exploring new and creative ways of engaging the societies around us with the good news of God in Christ, and we are increasingly willing to spend ourselves and the resources God has given us for the healing of the world.  We are more attuned to voices crying in the wilderness, those living at the margins of human communities, and those without a voice, including this fragile earth, our island home.  Together, we are moving into God’s future with courage, boldness, and the humility of knowing there is always more to learn.  For all that hope-filled movement, I give thanks in abundance.

I have spent many months in discernment about how I am being called to serve God’s people and God’s creation in this season.  I have resisted the assumption by some that presiding bishops can only be elected to serve one term, knowing the depth of relational work and learning that is involved in this ministry.  There is a tradeoff between the learning curve and the ability to lead more effectively as a result of developed relationships both within and beyond this Church.  At the same time, I recognize that standing for election as Presiding Bishop carries the implicit expectation that one is ready to serve a full term.  I do not at present believe I should serve and lead in this ministry for another nine years.

I believe I can best serve this Church by opening the door for other bishops to more freely discern their own vocation to this ministry.  I also believe that I can offer this Church stronger and clearer leadership in the coming year as we move toward that election and a whole-hearted engagement with necessary structural reforms.  I will continue to engage us in becoming a more fully diverse Church, spreading the gospel among all sorts and conditions of people, and wholeheartedly devoted to God’s vision of a healed and restored Creation.

I will continue in discernment about the ministry I may be called to in the coming years, but my present focus is and will remain on being the vigorous and faithful leader I believe I am called to be.  God has called us all to be instruments of shalom, and we have miles to go before we live in that world of justice and peace.  We are marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God.  Siyahamba!

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

ENS Editors’ Note:

There are no terms limits on the service of a presiding bishop. Jefferts Schori, who turned 60 earlier this year, could have served an additional nine years, had she been nominated and elected.

A presiding bishop is subject to the church’s mandatory clergy retirement age of 72. According to Canon 1.2.2, if a presiding bishop will turn 72 before the end of the nine-year term, then he or she must resign at the General Convention nearest to that birthday.

Presiding bishops serve a nine-year term. The General Convention in 1994 reduced the term from 12 years (via Resolution A130). Twenty-fifth Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, Jefferts Schori’s predecessor, was the first to serve a nine year term.

Jefferts Schori was elected in 2006 by the House of Bishops during a meeting of General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, and her election was confirmed by the House of Deputies on the same day. She was invested as the 26th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church on Nov. 4, 2006.

Nominations for the 27th presiding bishop are due to the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop by Sept. 30. The election will take place during the 78th meeting of General Convention June 25-July 3, 2015 in Salt Lake City. The current draft of the convention schedule shows the election taking place on June 27.

More information about the election process is here.


Comments (36)

  1. The Rev. John Merchant says:

    I’d like the General Convention to enact legislation to limit the term of the PB to one nine year term.

  2. Doug Desper says:

    The Church benefits from nearly any leader, notwithstanding the controversies and inadequecies that the person possesses. However, it must be recognized that this Church is far from the road to unity and healing despite what actions General Convention has taken to pronounce it so. We need leadership to unite us and not to further polarize. Since we do not have an archbishop, nine years is enough for any Presiding Bishop.

  3. Alda Morgan says:

    I agree with Tom Chu and Elizabeth Caampbell, as well as others who’ve said a 9-year term is enough. My memory from the 1997 convention was that a majority thought a 12-year term was too long; hence, it was shortened. No matter how well a person has carried out the responsibilities of that office, 9 years is enough. I understand what Katherine is saying about building a network of relationships being an important aspect of the job, but how those relationships are used in creating policy and practices is important, too, and it is a rare person who can continue this more important work for such a long period of time without also creating resistance that could be divisive or running out of the energy to respond with an open perspective and fresh ideas. One may be able to do that for longer than 9 years, but not for 18!

  4. Elizabeth Sosnowski says:

    Dear Bishop Jefferts Schori
    You have not told us what we must do to heal our church. You have chosen to be an instrument of healing . You have not instructed us to forgive. You have forgiven. You have not preached love. You have loved those who have loved you and those who have not.You have not asked of us anything which you didn’t do first.You have been an outward and visible sign of God’s inward and spiritual grace. I can imagine you may be humble enough to give all the credit to God. I hope you will acknowledge that the choices you have made came from the courage to have faith,to let God’s grace lead you. Thank you . I pray for discernment for you for the next step
    so that you may go forth in strength and joy. Bless you.

    1. Wilma LaRae Neal says:

      My experience in the presence of Katharine Jefferts Schori have been filled with the grace of God’s love and forgiveness. Elizabeth Sosnowski has written my thoughts exactly and I can’t imagine how some who have responded to this document can judge her in their thoughtless and negative fashion when she has lived her ministry as closely to Jesus’ ministry as any human can live. Please take your political negativity, my friends, and take a lesson from Katharine’s actions. Dear Katharine, please keep writing books and teaching us in your beautiful fashion.

  5. Gill Frierson says:

    Maybe now the Church will progress foward and start to heal. Maybe now, the Church will put the money they have spent on friviously suing other churches and dioceses toward relief efforts. Thanks be to God she is stepping down.

  6. Prof. Dapo Asaju says:

    May we all realise that assessment of church leaders is normally based on biblical standards, standing for truth, advancing the kingdom of God against that of the Devil and growing the church numerically, spiritually, evangelically and with peace and unity. Under Schori church attendance in Episcopal Church nosedived, church credibility collapsed, she led a movement that has broken irreversibly the global anglican Communion and has injured faithful believers in USA using money inherited from faithful christian fathers of faith to fight faithful church congregations .
    , selling off to unbelievers churches of disposessed congregations. Judge for yourselves if she is a shepherd or a wolf. Good riddance to Schori. Her exit is opportunity for Episcopal church to resurrect.

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