The PB's a She
The atmosphere was anticipatory, but not exactly charged. As the announcement was made and quickly sank in, the reaction was electric. There was little if any applause or other reaction from the deputies and the onlookers who broke into applause were shushed quickly enough as the rules of the House only allow for displays with consent of the President and all were aware that when any person is selected others may feel rejected. Yet there was still a very perceptible sense of jubilation.
In the debate to the consent to the election which followed, only a deputy from Maryland spoke against the selection noting correctly the strain the election of a female primate (a leader a province within the Anglican Communion) within parts of the communion which do not ordain women, including three dioceses within The Episcopal Church which do not ordain women. The wife of Columbian Bishop Duque-Gomez who also ran for Presiding Bishop was one of the Deputies who spoke in favor of the consent (The Episcopal Church in Columbia is one of the foreign nations whose Anglican churches remain a diocese within The Episcopal Church). The vote to consent to the election readily, but not unanimously, went to Bishop Jefferts Schori.
The House of Deputies moved on to other business as the two bishops who brought word of the election were sent back with word of the vote for consent. In the fullness of time, Bishop Jefferts Schori was escorted into the House by current Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, accompanied by her husband, daughter, son-in-law and others. The House and gallery rose to its feet in a lengthy standing ovation which released the unanticipated emotion of the gathering. I noticed one deputation which voted against the consent standing and joining in the applause in a sign of support I find hopeful.
In anticipation of this post, I've been asking people this afternoon and evening what they think of the day. Certainly quite a few have noted the rightness of this election coming on the 30th anniversary of the General Convention voting to approve of the ordination of women. Many commented on the palpable energy and excitement the announcement produced. Others commented on how they did not see it coming or how unexpected the election was.
I appreciate that the gifts Bishop Jefferts Schori will bring to her new vocation will be in part because of her gender, but she is not only a woman. She, of course, has gifts to offer that have nothing to do with her gender. For example, she brings a scientific background to her vocation. Jefferts Schori holds a Ph.D. in oceanography and worked for the National Marine Fisheries Service before entering the seminary. When elected Bishop of Nevada five years ago she told a newspaper, "I'm still working in the depths and still fishing."
The one member of the nominating committee I have spoken to is quite sure that Bishop Jefferts Shori was nominated for her gifts in ministry and not due to her gender. Furthermore, I have no reason to believe that the bishops elected our new primate just because she happens to be female. What I notice is that her election does not fit with any preconceived notions, general expectation or particular political agenda, meaning that her election has all the fingerprints of the Holy Spirit and I think that is what led to the unanticipated energy the announcement generated in a gathering that honestly did not think it was on hand to hear of the first female primate in the Anglican Communion.
As for myself, I can't imagine she would have been my choice, though I can't know that as I was in place to vote on the consent, not to vote in the election itself. But with that said, I have been praying for Bishop Jefferts Schori and will continue to do so and as I prayed before the vote to consent, the unease I had at the potential rift it could cause with those who do not approve of the ordination of women was calmed by the peace I felt in voting for the consent. While not my choice, I ended up having good feelings about the consent vote and pray that God will use Bishop Jefferts Schori to energize Christ's Church - including The Episcopal Church - the way the announcement created excitement today.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church