Katharine Jefferts Schori

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Katharine Jefferts Schori
26th Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church
ChurchEpiscopal Church
In office2006–2015
PredecessorFrank Griswold
SuccessorMichael Curry
Other post(s)Bishop Assitant of Los Angeles Diocese(2019-Currently)
Ordination1994 (priest)
ConsecrationFebruary 24, 2001
by Jerry Lamb
Personal details
Born (1954-03-26) March 26, 1954 (age 69)
ParentsKeith Jefferts
Elaine Ryan
SpouseRichard Schori
Previous post(s)Bishop of Nevada (2001-2006)
Alma materStanford University
Oregon State University
Pacific Church Divinity School

Katharine Jefferts Schori (born March 26, 1954) is the former Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of the United States. Previously elected as the 9th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, she was the first woman elected as a primate in the Anglican Communion. Jefferts Schori was elected at the 75th General Convention on June 18, 2006, and invested at Washington National Cathedral on November 4, 2006, and continued until November 1, 2015, when Michael Bruce Curry was invested in the position. She took part in her first General Convention of the Episcopal Church as Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in July 2009.

Early and family life[edit]

Of Irish and Swiss ancestry, Jefferts Schori was born in Pensacola, Florida to Keith Jefferts, an atomic physicist, and Elaine Ryan, a microbiologist.[1] Jefferts Schori was first raised in the Catholic Church. In 1963, her parents brought her, at the age of eight, into the Episcopal Church (St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, New Providence, New Jersey) with their own move out of Roman Catholicism. Her mother converted to Eastern Orthodoxy a few years later and died in 1998.[2]

Jefferts Schori attended school in New Jersey, then earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Stanford University in 1974, a Master of Science degree in oceanography in 1977, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1983, also in oceanography, from Oregon State University. She is an instrument-rated pilot, and both her parents were pilots.

She married Richard Schori, an Oregon State professor of topology, in 1979; they have a daughter.[3]

Early career[edit]

Jefferts Schori earned her Master of Divinity in 1994 from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific[4] and was ordained priest that year. She served as assistant rector to William R. McCarthy at the Church of the Good Samaritan, in Corvallis, Oregon, where she had special responsibility for pastoring the Hispanic community as a fluent Spanish communicator, and was in charge of adult education programs.

In 2001, Jefferts Schori was elected and consecrated Bishop of Nevada.

She was awarded honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 2001, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 2007, and Sewanee: The University of the South in 2008.

In 2003, Jefferts Schori voted to consent to the election of Gene Robinson, an openly gay and partnered man,[5] to which some conservative Episcopalians objected.[6]

Election as Presiding Bishop[edit]

Jefferts Schori in 2008

The Episcopal Church met in General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, in June 2006. Jefferts Schori was elected to serve a nine-year term as Presiding Bishop by the House of Bishops, on June 18, from among seven nominees on the fifth ballot with 95 of the 188 votes cast. The House of Deputies, consisting of deacons, priests and laity, overwhelmingly approved the House of Bishops' election later that day. Jefferts Schori was the first woman primate in the worldwide Anglican Communion and the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Although Jefferts Schori's election was an indication of widespread support in the Episcopal Church in the United States for ordaining women to the historical episcopate, the Diocese of Fort Worth, which opposed women in holy orders, asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to be placed under the oversight of a different primate.[1] As not all churches in the Anglican Communion uphold the ordination of women, the election of a woman as primate also proved controversial in some other provinces.

At a news conference on June 18, 2006, the Presiding Bishop-elect articulated a willingness to work with conservatives. She expressed her hope to lead the church in the reign of God, rooted in imagery from Isaiah and including such United Nations Millennium Development Goals as eradicating poverty and hunger: "The poor are fed, the Good News is preached, those who are ostracized and in prison are set free, the blind receive sight."

Schori as presiding bishop in 2010

Jefferts Schori became Presiding Bishop on November 1, 2006, and her investiture was held on November 4 at Washington National Cathedral.[7] Her official seating was held the following day, also at the National Cathedral.

Jefferts Schori was the 963rd bishop consecrated in the Episcopal Church. She was consecrated by Jerry A. Lamb, Bishop of Northern California; Robert Louis Ladehoff, Bishop of Oregon; and Carolyn Tanner Irish, Bishop of Utah.

Presiding Bishop[edit]

In 2008, groups from four dioceses (Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, Quincy, and San Joaquin) broke off to become part of the Anglican Church in North America as part of the Anglican realignment.[8] Jefferts Schori authorized lawsuits against departing dioceses and parishes, with $22 million spent as of 2011.[9] She also established a policy that church properties were not to be sold to departing congregations.[10]

Jefferts Schori supported same-sex relationships and of the blessing of same-sex unions and civil marriages.[11] Like her predecessor, she is a supporter of abortion rights, stating that "We say it is a moral tragedy but that it should not be the government's role to deny its availability."[11] She also supported the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate on birth control.[citation needed] In 2007, her church's blessing of same-sex marriage led 7 Anglican archbishops to refuse communion with her during a meeting in Tanzania.[12]

Some within the church questioned the orthodoxy of her theology. For example, her statement that "the great Western heresy – is that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God" in her opening address to the 2009 General Convention was criticized and prompted a clarifying statement from her in the following week.[13][14] In 2013, Jefferts Schori's sermon in Curaçao about Paul driving out a demon from a slave girl (Acts 16:16–34), drew criticism from conservative Christian websites for departing from the common literal interpretation.[15]

End of term[edit]

Jefferts Schori announced on September 23, 2014, that she would not seek another term as Presiding Bishop.[16] On June 27, 2015, the General Convention elected Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina as the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.[17]

From 2017 to 2019, Jefferts Schori was an assisting bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.[18]

Since 2019, Jefferts Schori is one of the assinting bishops in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Banerjee, Neela (June 21, 2006). "For an Episcopal Pioneer, the Challenge Is to Unite". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  2. ^ Carole Beers (April 7, 1998). "Obituaries: Elaine Ryan; To Her Life Was Just A Smorgasbord To Be Sampled". Seattle Times Newspaper.
  3. ^ Presiding Bishop: Biography Archived 2011-07-02 at the Wayback Machine. Episcopalchurch.org (2001-02-24). Retrieved on 2010-11-25.
  4. ^ "Presiding bishop candidates". Episcopal Life Archives. Archived from the original on April 20, 2009.
  5. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (February 21, 2007). "Many Episcopalians Wary, Some Defiant After Ultimatum by Anglicans". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  6. ^ Davey, Monica (August 6, 2003). "Gay Bishop Wins in Episcopal Vote; Split Threatened". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Banerjee, Neela (November 5, 2006). "A Woman Is Installed as Top Episcopal Bishop". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  8. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (December 3, 2008). "Episcopal Split as Conservatives Form New Group". New York Times. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  9. ^ Hemingway, Mollie Ziegler. "Twenty-First Century Excommunication". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on April 4, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2012.
  10. ^ Hagerty, Barbara Bradley (April 10, 2012). "A Church Divided: Ruling Ends Va.'s Episcopal Battle". National Public Radio. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  11. ^ a b Kaleem, Jaweed (March 27, 2012). "Katharine Jefferts Schori, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop, Speaks About Gay Clergy And Birth Control, 27 March 2012". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 7, 2012.
  12. ^ LaFraniere, Sharon; Goodstein, Laurie (February 17, 2007). "Anglican Prelates Snub Head of U.S. Church Over Gay Issues". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  13. ^ Kwon, Lillian (August 28, 2009). "Episcopal Head Clarifies 'Heresy' Comments". The Christian Post. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  14. ^ Chemberlin, Peg (July 12, 2009). "Great Western heresy — that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God?". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Archived from the original on October 2, 2018. Retrieved November 25, 2012.
  15. ^ Oppenheimer, Mark (June 21, 2013). "For Episcopal Church's Leader, a Sermon Leads to More Dissent". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2018.
  16. ^ Jefferts Schori, Katharine (September 23, 2014). "From Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori". EpiscopalChurch.org. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 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.
  17. ^ Schjonberg, Mary Frances (June 27, 2015), "North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry elected as 27th Presiding Bishop: History-making decision will bring first person of color into church's top leadership office", Episcopal News Service, The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, archived from the original on January 18, 2016, retrieved June 27, 2015
  18. ^ "Katharine Jefferts Schori to be assisting bishop in San Diego". Episcopal Church. June 29, 2017. Retrieved May 24, 2018.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Episcopal Church (USA) titles
Preceded by Bishop of Nevada
Succeeded by
Preceded by Presiding Bishop
Succeeded by