In a corner of the public bar lounge in Washington’s Omni Shoreham, a hotel noted for receiving U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries and film crews, 20 Oregonians clustered at 5 p.m. on Nov. 3, waiting for two special guests.
While they waited, they mixed and mingled, occasionally sampling hors d’oeuvres from the complimentary food table and talked about what they might expect at the historic investiture the following day. When Katharine Jefferts Schori and her spouse, Dick, finally appeared, the scene became a grand reunion.
The Oregonians were members of Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in Corvallis, where the new presiding first had discerned she would seek ordination. Many had accompanied her on that path since then, encouraging her, attending her graduation from seminary, welcoming her back to Good Samaritan, then attending her consecration as bishop of Nevada almost six years ago. Now, they were to be present for yet another milestone in the life of this person who they described as a remarkable woman.
“I’ve known Katharine for 25 years, since she was a student, and I’ve seen her blossom,” said 83-year-old Bruce Black, who with his wife, Barbara, 86, awakened in the middle of the previous night to make the six-hour flight across the country. They were determined, they said, to walk down the aisle the next morning at the investiture, carrying the bread and wine as symbols of Jefferts Schori’s ministry.
“We look upon her as a friend and an inspiration,” he said. “This is a wonderful opportunity, a climax.” “I am thrilled for her,” said Sandy Gell, who recalled when the soon-to-be presiding bishop would roll up her sleeves and join the parish women is preparing for a bake sale. “She is a down-to-earth, gracious person.”
Jefferts Schori was a member of the vestry when he arrived, said the Rev. Bill McCarthy, rector of Good Samaritan for 17 years before retiring. “She is about living her ministry as God calls her to live it.”
The group presented Jefferts Schori with a remembrance book, including photos and art that will remind her of her years with the Oregon congregation.