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From Columbus: The Adventure Continues

By Carol E. Barnwell


[Episcopal News Service]  "I've been elected, and I'm so glad you're an adventurer," was the first thing Richard Schori's wife said to him by phone following her election as Presiding Bishop June 18. The former collegiate and Olympic-style wrestler and high-level climber admits that past pursuits have prepared him for this new role. 

Schori, 67, has made a solo, un-roped ascent of the Matterhorn; climbed the Dolomites in Italy and 900-foot Diamond, a granite cliff that sits atop the east face of Longs Peak in the Rocky Mountains.  His last climb was Mt. McKinley (20,320 feet) in 1988.

Schori met Katharine Jefferts at a stewardship dinner when she was a graduate student in oceanography 28 years ago. At the time he was chair of the mathematics department at Oregon State University. 

"I saw a depth in her," he said, "We have a similar amount of adventurous spirit . . . She's fearless." 

Schori is one of four children, the son of a journalist, who spent his early childhood in Alaska. He has a long history in the Episcopal Church and remembers his father helping to lead the congregation at St. John's, Ketchikan, Alaska, when Schori was eight years old. He was a fraternity brother of Bishop William Swing and later served as senior warden at St. Alban's Chapel at Louisiana State University, where he taught in the math department prior to moving to Oregon.

Schori traveled extensively during his career as a research mathematician; his discipline is infinite dimensional topology. His wife's interest in Latin America has led the couple to travel and study in Mexico. In April they took a refresher course in Spanish in Cuernavaca. He admits with a chuckle: "She was in a much more advanced class than I."

When Schori's scientist wife first began to consider holy orders, he said the thought of "going around town with someone in a collar" didnot fit his self image. It seemed more comfortable by the time Jefferts Schori was elected bishop of Nevada in 2001. "I was able to retire," he said, and he has never been busier. Schori now teaches a web-based calculus course and the couple backpacks and goes camping regularly. 

Having had a successful academic and research career, Schori said, "I don't feel the need to pursue accolades for myself. If I can facilitate what [Katharine] does, that's great."
Moving to New York will be a challenge, but he was the one who packed up and sold the house when they left Corvallis, Oregon, to move to Nevada.

Manhattan will just be another adventure.