Meanwhile, some Episcopal churches and one diocese have voted to leave the denomination and align with foreign provinces — despite longstanding tradition in which bishops respect each others’ boundaries — and are now fighting in court over the use of their property. New parishes in Elizabethtown and Louisville have formed under the leadership of the bishop of Bolivia but are not involved in property disputes.
Jefferts Schori maintained that the denomination has a “fiduciary as well as moral responsibility” to make sure church property is used for the purposes that donors intended. “We don’t have a right to give it away to a group that says they don’t want to be part of the Episcopal Church,” she said.
When a questioner pressed her on the issue, she said that ideally the church should find a way to settle rather than go through messy, expensive litigation, “but we haven’t found it yet.”
One questioner at the St. Matthew’s Episcopal gathering asked about her own conversion experience and whether she shared the traditional Christian doctrine that Jesus was the only way to salvation.
She said her own conversion culminated a period of spiritual searching following the tragic death of a longtime friend as well as her readings of scientists who spoke of the mystery of the universe.
That prompted her conversion and eventual career switch from oceanographer to priest, a path that led to her 2006 election as presiding bishop of the denomination.
She said she feels called to “share the good news I know in Jesus,” while being cautious not to judge others. “I look around me and see evidence that God is at work in traditions that don’t call themselves Christian,” she said.
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