They came from near and far to Washington National Cathedral on Nov. 4 to witness the investiture of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.
Thousands of ticket holders braved the brisk but sunny weather for four or more hours to observe what many called history in the making.
“This is a very historic event,” said Angela Daniel from South Carolina. “Katharine's presence means something to the future generation of women leaders in the church.”
Sally Johnson from Minneapolis said the event was so important that she and others from her parish arrived more than three hours early. Edithe Duracin of the church in Haiti expressed excitement about having “a leader who can speak French.”
“This is the culmination of 40 years of effort,” said Marge Christie, a founder and past president of the Episcopal Women’s Caucus, long-time member of Executive Council’s committee on the status of women and deputy to General Convention.
Ordained 20 years ago, the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton from Chatham, N.J., said she “could never have imagined 20 years ago that this day would happen. “It’s a dream come true,” she said. “You get a sense of what it must have been like for the apostles to drop everything and follow this man with a vision. I would drop everything and follow where she leads the church.”
Diane Pollard, co-chair of the presiding bishop’s nominating committee and a member of Executive Council, described herself as giddy. “I am really very happy. This is a wonderful day for our church. I think Katharine’s ministry is going to bring … a new and different thing that we really need to have.”
Jill Beasley, former chair of the Diocese of Nevada standing committee said her feeling of loss of Jefferts Schori as her diocesan bishop was gone. “I think the sadness is gone … [it’s wonderful] to be part of this whole event, to see Katharine and knowing it is the perfect choice.”
“Something shifted” at the election said the Rev. Nancy Roth of Ohio, author and retreat leader. “It’s so empowering, affirming. It’s really a splendid day. I’m sure this will be a spirit-filled experience for us all.”
The event’s significance was not lost on the youth. Abigail Brdlik, 17, of Summit, N.J., said the presiding bishop was a graduate of her school. The investiture “shows acceptance of women in higher levels," she said.
Wendy Vurik of San Diego brought her daughter Joanna, 10. “It's exciting,” the youngster said, “but it feels kind of normal because my mom works for a woman.” That answer is indicative of the times, said Vurik.
Another mother, Karen Glasco of Richmond, Va., said that she had brought her daughter Sidney, 9, who attends an all-girls Episcopal school, because it showed her the possibilities of women in leadership.
“I'm proud that there's a woman stepping up,” said Audreana Robinson, 15, an acolyte from Washington, D.C.