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Katharine Jefferts Schori (born March 26, 1954, in Pensacola, Floridamarker) is the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Previously elected as the 9th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, she is the first woman elected as a primate of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Jefferts Schori was elected at the 75th General Convention on June 18, 2006 and invested at Washington National Cathedralmarker on November 4, 2006. She took part in her first General Convention of the Episcopal Church as Presiding Bishop in July 2009.


Born in Pensacola to Keith Jefferts his wife Elaine Ryan, both of Swedishmarker ancestry, Jefferts Schori was raised in the Roman Catholic Church until 1963 when, at the age of eight, her parents brought her into the Episcopal Church (St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, New Providence, NJ) with their own move out of Roman Catholicism, although her mother converted to Eastern Orthodoxy a few years later. She attended school in New Jerseymarker, then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in biology from Stanford Universitymarker in 1974, a Master of Science in oceanography in 1977 and a Ph.D. in 1983, also in oceanography, from Oregon State Universitymarker. She earned her Master of Divinity in 1994 from the Church Divinity School of the Pacificmarker and was ordained priest that year. She served as assistant rector at the Church of the Good Samaritan, Corvallis, Oregonmarker, where she had special responsibility for pastoring the Hispanic community (she speaks Spanish fluently). In 2001, she was elected and consecrated Bishop of Nevada. She was awarded a Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) in 2001 from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and in 2007 from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. (It is a common practice at most Episcopal seminaries to award an honorary doctorate to alumni who become bishops.) She is an instrument-rated and third-generation pilot and her parents were both also pilots.

She married Richard Schori, an Oregon State professor of topology, in 1979. Their daughter Katharine is a captain and pilot in the United States Air Force and has flown VIPs in VC-21 Learjet and AWACS command-and-control planes.

Election as Presiding Bishop and Primate

The Episcopal Church met in General Convention in Columbusmarker, Ohiomarker, in June 2006. Jefferts Schori was elected to serve a nine year term as Presiding Bishop by the House of Bishops, on June 18, from among seven nominees on the fifth ballot with 95 of the 188 votes cast. The House of Deputies, consisting of deacons, priests and laity, overwhelmingly approved the House of Bishops' election later that day. Jefferts Schori is the first woman primate in the worldwide Anglican Communion and the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Although Jefferts Schori's election was an indication of widespread support in the Episcopal Church in the United States for ordaining women to the historical episcopate, the Diocese of Fort Worth, which opposed women in holy orders, asked the Archbishop of Canterbury for "alternative primatial oversight" (a previously unknown ministry), analogous to the "alternative episcopal oversight" suggested in the Windsor Report. Several other conservative dioceses affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network, including some that do ordain women, have made similar requests.

Jefferts Schori voted to consent to the election of Gene Robinson, an openly gay and partnered man, as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, to which some conservative Episcopalians have objected strenuously. As not all churches in the Anglican Communion uphold the ordination of women, the election of a female bishop as primate has also proved controversial in some other provinces.

At a news conference on 18 June 2006, the Presiding Bishop-elect articulated a willingness to work with conservatives. She expressed her hope to lead the church in the reign of God, rooted in imagery from Isaiah and including such United Nations Millennium Development Goals as eradicating poverty and hunger: "The poor are fed, the Good News is preached, those who are ostracized and in prison are set free, the blind receive sight."

Jefferts Schori remained as Bishop of Nevada until taking up the position of Presiding Bishop officially on November 1, 2006; her investiture and seating in the office was held on November 4 at the Washington National Cathedralmarker. The investiture and seating were designed and orchestrated by the Revd Canon Carol Wade, Precentor at Washington National Cathedral. Her official seating was held the following day, also at the National Cathedral. An Episcopal Presiding Bishop's term typically lasts for nine years, running in three-year cycles in conjunction with General Convention.

Jefferts Schori has started traveling to different Episcopal dioceses, including an October 2007 visit to the Diocese of Puerto Rico, which separated from the Episcopal Church in 1978 but was reinstated in 2002. Her visit to commemorate the centennial of the U.S. territory's Episcopal health system, its diocesan convention the Puerto Rican Senate received significant press coverage and reenergized the Episcopal Church on the island. . In 2009, she also visited the Episcopal Church of the Philippines being a former part of the Episcopal Church of the United Statesmarker.

Jefferts Schori was the 963rd bishop consecrated in the Episcopal Church. She was consecrated by Jerry A. Lamb, Bishop of Northern California; Robert L. Ladehoff, Bishop of Oregon; and Carolyn Tanner Irish, Bishop of Utah.


  1. Matthew Davies, "In Sweden, Presiding Bishop joins 50th anniversary celebrations of women's ordination", Episcopal Life Online, September 23, 2008. URL: [1]


  • Katharine Jefferts Schori, A Wing and a Prayer: A Message of Faith and Hope. New York: Morehouse Publishing (January 2007) ISBN 978-0-8192-2271-8 and London: SPCK (April 2007) ISBN 978-0-2810-5932-4

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