The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori will not stand for re-election as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. In a statement released at the close of the House of Bishops meeting on 23 September 2014 in Taipai, Bishop Jefferts Schori stated that after several months of discernment, she had come to the conclusion that it was time for a new leader to take the church forward.
In her letter to the church, the Presiding Bishop cited the accomplishments of her tenure noting first her “relational work”, which was “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.”
The Episcopal Church under her tenure had endured a season of “extraordinary change” where our “Christian values” had been challenged. But the church was simultaneously “clearer and confident about the faith we share” while at the same time this purified faith was shared by “diverse peoples and cultures”
The Presiding Bishop’s agenda of breaking the traditional power structures of the church and reforming it into an organization for progressive social change was underway. “We are more attuned to voices crying in the wilderness, those livinat 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.”
The time had come, however, to allow others to carry forward the task.
“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.”
Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will leave office upon the election of her successor at the 2015 General Convention in Utah.