During yestereday’s joint session on mission, deputies and bishops took time to honor Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as she nears the end of her nine-year term.
There was a video tribute, remarks from former presiding bishop, the Rt. Rev. Frank T. Griswold III, and three prolonged standing ovations. Broadcast journalist Ray Suarez, a member of St. Columba’s Church in Washington, D.C., emceed the tribute.
“It’s a treat for me to be asked to help say thank you, with a big exclamation point, for Bishop Katharine’s nearly nine years of service as our chief pastor and primate at an incredible time in the life of our church and the communion,” Suarez said.
“The bishop I’ve seen in action over these nine years has opened the arms of the church in radical welcome,” he said, “and said things that needed saying but are sometimes kind of hard to hear, but always with compassion in its truest Latin sense, being willing to share the sufferings of those she was chosen to lead and sharing their joys, too. If everybody could be as tender, scholarly, compassionate, dogged, strategic and consensus-building, well, we probably wouldn’t need presiding bishops at all because the work of the church would be close to done,” Suarez said.
Griswold described numerous aspects of the role of presiding bishop, including the necessity of “having a heart that is open and undefended in the embrace of different theological perspectives, different ways of embodying the gospel, different cultures and a variety of contexts” and the ability “to speak with equal facility the language of God’s justness and the language of God’s holiness.” Jefferts Schori, he said, has exercised the office of presiding bishop with “great dignity, articulateness and grace.”
“God’s mission and ministry of reconciliation have been her theme and her conversion call to us all,” Griswold said.
The tribute ended with what Suarez called “a jubilation of primates”—Griswold, Jefferts Schori and Presiding Bishop-elect Michael B. Curry gathered on stage to more cheers and applause.