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Presiding bishop preaches in Quito about conflict, scarcity and peace

[Episcopal News Service – Quito, Ecuador] Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached to a full house Sept. 18 at Catedral de El Señor here reminding those present that conflict has marked human life since Cain and Abel.

"It is very good for brothers and sisters to live together in peace – even if it doesn’t happen very often," she said in a sermon preached both in Spanish and English.

The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops is holding its fall meeting Sept. 15-20 at the Hilton Colón Hotel in downtown Quito in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Ecuador, where the diocesan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Luis Fernando Ruiz, and the Standing Committee have been involved in a long-standing conflict.

"The conflict in this diocese is mostly about relative scarcity – decision-making authority is the scarce commodity in most people's eyes," Jefferts Schori said. "It's pretty clear that it isn't distributed effectively enough for people to believe there is abundance. All the bishops here can tell you of similar conflicts in their own dioceses, but most of those conflicts have not risen to this level of intensity."

Despite one comment during the prayers of the people, those present maintained decorum. Ruiz, was present, but not presiding.

The presiding bishop is working with both sides to mediate and resolve the situation, said Neva Rae Fox, the Episcopal Church's public affairs officer, following the service.

With Jefferts Schori both preaching and presiding, Episcopalians – including members of the Shuar tribe of indigenous Amazonians from Puyo, and a number of Quichua from Guamote, both of whom traveled five hours one way by bus – and others from throughout the diocese came to see her.

"Peace, about which we sang when we came in today, is more than an absence of conflict, but it comes through an awareness of true abundance -- it’s the opposite of scarcity," said Jefferts Schori in her sermon. "The kingdom of God is about a feast where everybody has enough, and enough more to celebrate.

"That is the promised land God first told them about. Peace has a lot to do with the absence of anxiety about scarcity – I’m not afraid about where my next meal is coming from, or how to clothe my children. And I know that my neighbor isn’t going to come and take what I have, because he, too, has enough."

-- Lynette Wilson is an editor/reporter for Episcopal News Service.