RALEIGH, N.C. — Katharine Jefferts Schori is a pioneer.
She's the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the leader of a denomination in which women weren't ordained priests less than a generation ago.
Now she leads close to 2.5 million people who call themselves Episcopalians, members of a church that some believe is in serious trouble
Schori came to Raleigh and Chapel Hill for special services after only a few months on the job, months that have been hectic.
There have been some aspects she did not anticipate.
“The intensity's been a little more than I anticipated,” Schori said Friday.
One thing she did anticipate is the challenge of holding her flock together. Several parishes have voted to secede from the national church over the ordination of openly gay priests.
Schori acknowledges the pain and anger of those who feel they need to leave, but she denies claims the church is ripping apart at the seams.
“No, no, no. A handful of congregations that make up a tiny portion are tied up in knots—maybe one half of 1 percent—but most are faithful and going about the business of following the gospel” the bishop said.
On the same day, eight miles away, another member of the clergy has a different take on current events.
“”We are undergoing all sorts of problems at the moment on the issue of practicing homosexuality,” said Lord George Carey, who served as the archbishop of Canterbury—head of the Church of England—from 1991 to 2002.
The Episcopal Church does not answer to the Church of England, but is connected, at least, in spirit.
Both deny a separation has occurred, and both know there is work to be done.
“You only grieve when the body is dead,” Carey said. “I'm not grieving at this moment because all hope is not lost.”
David Crabtree, Reporter
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