Ex cathedra


Last week, the Divinity School’s Wednesday Lunch packed the Swift Hall Common Room with students, faculty, staff—and a liberal sprinkling of Episcopal clergy. Lunch consisted of a salad, cheese plate, lentil soup, and cookies, but many came primarily to hear the day’s speaker: the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

As Div School Dean Richard Rosengarten, AM’88, PhD’94, pointed out in his introduction, Jefferts Schori is also the first presiding bishop who trained as a scientist (her first career was as a marine biologist), as well as the first to hold a pilot’s license. With short, upswept gray locks that suggested a miter and wearing a fuchsia clerical shirt under her black suit jacket, Jefferts Schori temporarily turned the podium into a pulpit: “Why are we here?”

Her own answer came in a mediation, “Theological Education and the Dream of God,” that was a variation on her September address at Union Theological Seminary. “The wags say that preachers usually have only one sermon—we just keep preaching variations on a theme. What dream of God is going to frame your sermons for the next ten or 20 or 50 years?” For Jefferts Schori, God’s vision is of a healed world, a view that by definition requires the presence of injustice and pain.

Homily over, Jefferts Schori opened the floor to a Q & A: “So…why are you here?”


Photo: The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, spoke at the January 30 Divinity School Lunch.

Photo by Marc Monaghan.

February 4, 2008