The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter, has announced to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and other colleagues her intention to retire July 1. She joined the Presiding Bishop’s staff in September 2005.
“It has been a privilege to be one of The Episcopal Church’s storytellers for the past nearly 14 years,” Schjonberg wrote in her letter to the Presiding Bishop. “This job has been my ministry and I hope my work has helped Episcopalians deepen their knowledge of the church we love and find inspiration in the mission and ministry of their siblings in Christ. Now, though, it is time for the next chapter in my own story.”
Schjonberg first wrote for Episcopal News Service as a freelancer in 2003. “I have been blessed to have what all journalists hope for: the chance to witness history and be able to write about it,” she said.
Those historic events included the election and episcopates of 26th Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (the first woman elected to that post) and 27th Presiding Bishop Michael Curry (the first African American presiding bishop). She helped cover the on- going story of Bishop Gene Robinson (the Christian Church’s first openly gay bishop) as well as the ever-expanding efforts towards full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of The Episcopal Church.
“It’s been amazing to work with Mary Frances over the last decade. Her in-depth knowledge of The Episcopal Church, its history and governance, is something ENS has benefited from enormously,” said Lynette Wilson, the news service’s managing editor. “I’m sure ENS readers will miss her and I’ll miss having her as a colleague.”
Schjonberg specialized in reporting on The Episcopal Church’s governance and polity, issues affecting clergy and breaking news, especially the impact of natural disasters on the church around the world. That latter reportage began in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and has included numerous other storms, floods, wildfires and earthquakes in Haiti, New Zealand and the East Coast of the United States.
“Mary Frances brought us the gift of being both an ordained priest and a professional journalist,” said the Rev. Deacon Geoffrey T. Smith, chief operating officer. “Her passion for both has been evident in her ability to not only report on the who, what and where of a story, but also to dive into the why with a discerning eye and heart. She will be sorely missed.”
She has covered 40 of the last 41 Executive Council meetings, six consecutive General Conventions, four consecutive meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council (including the just-concluded ACC-17 meeting in Hong Kong) and the 2008 Lambeth Conference. She has won numerous Polly Bond Awards from Episcopal Communicators for her news and feature writing, as well as for her photography and videography.
Schjonberg remains in her present position through June 30.