International guests that included five primates and several Anglican and ecumenical leaders journeyed to Washington, D.C., to bring an intercontinental flavor to the historic investiture of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the 26th presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church.
Among the regions and countries represented were Australia, Brazil, Canada, Central America, England, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Scotland, Southern Africa and Tanzania. Archbishop Mauricio J.A. de Andrade of the Anglican Church of Brazil described the investiture as “an emblematic moment” for the Anglican Communion.
Jefferts Schori “is a very open and sensitive person,” he said, “and I hope that the Anglican Communion will live this historical moment and adjust its focus to the mission of the church.”
He looks forward to welcoming Jefferts Schori to Brazil, where, in 2005, the Anglican Church celebrated 20 years of ordaining women, he said. “The Church in Brazil is waiting to welcome her with open arms.”
Prayers and “best wishes”
Bishop John Saxbee of the Church of England represented Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, also attended.
In a message read by Saxbee, Williams sent his prayers and “best wishes” to Jefferts Schori. She takes on this responsibility in the most challenging of times, but she will be supported by the good will and prayers of many in the United States and around the world, he said. “I pray that she will daily know the love and mercy of God in Jesus Christ as the foundation of all she does, so that this reality will radiate from her ministry and her witness.”
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, primate of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, presented Jefferts Schori with oil as a symbol of healing and reconciliation. He has been a leading voice of reconciliation in the Anglican Communion and has been instrumental in addressing poverty, trade, debt and HIV/AIDS.
“It is a great day for the church of God, and a dream has come true,” said Bishop Munawar Rumalshah of Pakistan. “I wish Katharine every blessing as she leads the Episcopal Church as a servant of God.”
“So it is a great day, not just for the Episcopal Church, but for the whole church, for women's ministry and for the hope it brings to many others,” he said.
“Reconciliation is the ultimate goal any Christian can wish for,” he added. “That was the climax and ultimate mission of Jesus himself. My message to Katharine as she embarks on her term as presiding bishop is to keep the doors of the home open to one and all, including the prodigal sons and daughters, because that is what the need of the day is.”
Bishop Bruce Cameron, retired primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church and currently serving at Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, Va., said he enjoyed the “mixture of the wonderful theater and a great deal of charisma in the traditional framework of the Anglican liturgy.”
He hopes the warmth with which Episcopalians embraced their new presiding bishop and the message in her sermon will be heard by others, he said. “I think her ministry will be a very positive one for the mission of the church, and I hope that we get back to what the church is really all about -- proclaiming a gospel to the world outside, which has many needs and needs to hear her words of ‘shalom’ a great deal.”
More than 30 ecumenical and interfaith guests also participated in the two-hour liturgy. “Her sermon and message of ‘shalom’ are very important, and it is crucial that her new ministry begins on the right footing,” said one of the ecumenical guests, Bishop Raul Tobias of the Philippine Independent Church, with which the Episcopal Church shares a full-communion relationship.
Tobias called on Jefferts Schori to be patient and ready: “She is entering into a very complex situation, and everyone is backing her to unite the church.”
Other global dimensions that resonated throughout the service included the prayers of the people, which were read in Haitian Creole, Mandarin Chinese and Yoruba (Nigerian), and a South Africa hymn that was sung in Zulu, English and Spanish.
The Book of the Gospels, a symbol of her ministry, was presented in English and Spanish. At the end of the service, Jefferts Schori blessed the assembly in Spanish.