Pioneering clergywoman on what history tells us

Truth and reconciliation is a response to colonialism but for individuals it’s a chance to enlarge our viewpoints by hearing experiences of others, a pioneering clergywoman says.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the U.S., the first woman to be elected a primate in the worldwide Anglican Church, said truth and reconciliation at its most basic, is about listening and respect.

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“It’s really an anti-colonialism response,” said Jefferts Schori in a telephone interview from her home in Nevada.

“It encourages people to hear each other’s stories and perspectives and to respect their differences rather than imposing your own view.”

Jefferts Schori is speaking Thursday at the University of Victoria and will be at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria for a forum on Sunday.

Jefferts Schori was American Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop from 2006 to 2015. She has served as Bishop of Nevada and is currently a visiting professor at Church Divinity of the Pacific.

She has degrees in biology and a PhD in oceanography, serves on the Earth and Life Studies board of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and was a member the Council on Neighborhood and Faith-Based Partnerships when Barack Obama was president.

Bishop Logan McMenamie, of the Diocese of British Columbia, said Jefferts Schori has demonstrated incredible leadership in the church and community.

“It wasn’t easy for her with some of the other primates throughout the world,” McMenamie said.

“But she has always demonstrated amazing leadership, and stood tall during some very difficult times in the life of the [Anglican] communion.”

Jefferts Schori said: “A founding principle of Anglicanism is the Gospel, the faith, is supposed to grow and develop in unique ways in different contexts.

But Anglicans haven’t always thought so, she said. In particular, those working as colonial missionaries thought only their views and contexts were correct.

“But it’s core to what it means to be an Anglican today,” she said.

“[Faith] takes different shapes in different contexts.”

For example, she said the U.S. Anglican community has experienced a new creative experience listening to how the Christian Gospels have found new contexts in indigenous societies.

“You begin to develop a more creative community as a result,” Jefferts Schori said.

“There is an ability to see truth in different contexts and find a larger picture than any one individual can find on their own.”

Jefferts Schori appears Thursday, Jan. 26, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at UVic in the David Turpin Building, room A120.

She will be a guest preacher at Christ Church Cathedral on Sunday, Jan. 29, during a forum from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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