In the 15 months or so since the missus and I decided to leave the Roman Catholic Church and become Episcopalians, we've been extremely happy with our new church. We became involved in a lot of the activities in the very cool parish we chose to belong to (if you have kids, it's hard not to become involved) and quickly felt at home in the church community. We're not any holier than we were back in the Catholic Church, it's just that our current church does a better job of reaching out to its parishioners. Some of that is due to the smaller size of our new church, and some of it comes with the openness and acceptance that we have encountered since day one.
So with all the great things about our local Episcopal church, it's easy to forget sometimes that the main reason that we left the Roman Catholic Church was not because of what was happening at the local level (though that was part of it), but because of what was coming down from Rome. It got harder and harder to stay in a church where it was painfully clear that gays would never be accepted, woman would never be ordained, and priest would never be allowed to marry. So every once in a while, it's good to step back and realize that not only is our parish pretty cool, but the American Episcopal Church is pretty cool, too.
Today was one of those days:
The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori was empowered to take charge of the Episcopal Church on Saturday in a Gothic sanctuary filled with well-wishers and the acrid smell of hot wax and incense, becoming the first woman to lead a national church in the Anglican Communion's 520-year history.
Her selection as the 26th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the denomination's highest office, was hailed as a breakthrough for women, and the inclusion of gays and lesbians, which she supports. It also made her a target in an international battle over opposing views on sexuality and interpretation of scripture that have pushed the worldwide 77 million-member Communion toward schism.
Yeah, she's got some headaches in her future, having to deal with some archaic ultra-conservative bishops (about eight of them) right here in the U.S. The threat of schism was the main reason I started following some religious blogs a while back, and from what I have been reading lately our new prelate seems to be open enough to offer to work with her detractors while tough enough to stand her ground.
Should be interesting.
[Photo: Haraz N. Ghanbari / AP]