A new woman heads the Episcopal Church


As I have mentioned in earlier postings, attending conventional Episcopal worship just doesn't do it for me. That being said, I still have a certain interest in the direction and future of the Episcopal church for several reasons. First, some of the leading voices for progressive Christianity come from within that denomination (for example, Marcus Borg). Second, although I normally attend UCC services on Sunday mornings, I also regularly attend Wednesday evening Taize services at an Episcopal church, and while I would never attend that church's Sunday services, the fact that I am a regular at its Wednesday services makes me, in a fashion, involved with that church. Third, there are some other Episcopal churches in my area that offer services that are not based on the Common Book of Prayer, which is to say that they offer alternative forms of worship that I might be interested in attending.

The upshot of this is that I have just enough of a toe dipped into the Episcopal waters to have been interested in the installation of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the first female head of the Episcopal church. I thus decided to watch part of the webcast of the investiture ceremony that took place on Saturday. My reaction to the part I saw, which was mostly just from the first half of the two hour event, was generally positive, despite the fact that it incorporated a traditional Episcopal service within it. Admittedly I wasn't too interested in the actual service so much as the pageantry that surrounded it. It featured much of the grandeur and ceremony that I might have expected from such an occasion. Some of staged ritualism struck admittedly me as a bit odd--such as when the Most Reverend Schori appeared outside the entrance to the Cathedral and knocked on the door with her staff--but I what I mostly enjoyed was the grand spectacle, and perhaps I was more tolerant of the worship style and Christian orthodoxy that I glimpsed as part of the event because a) I wasn't actually there in the congregation, so it wasn't like I was a worshiping participant in the event, b) I only watched part of it and could multi-task on my computer while the video was playing, and was able to just stop watching it after a while and thus take the actual worship service portion in just a small dose, c) I enjoyed what I saw of the pageantry, the diversity of musical styles, the dancing performer, the banners, and the use of colors (including the purple in Katharine Schori's attire), all of which gave the event a grand celebratory air, and d) it was a historic occasion for womankind and I was just happy to catch a glimpse this honor bestowed upon a deserving individual.

I didn't watch much past her sermon, but I did like what she said. "The ability of any of us to enjoy shalom," said the Most Reverend Schori, "depends on the health of our neighbors. If some do not have the opportunity for health or wholeness, then none of us can enjoy true and perfect holiness."