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In her inaugural sermon as the Episcopal Church's presiding bishop-elect, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada turned to images used by church mystics such as Julian of Norwich.

"That sweaty, bloody, tear-stained labor of the Cross bears new life," Jefferts Schori preached during the church's triennial General Convention, which met in June in Columbus, Ohio. "Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation—and you and I are his children."

For Jefferts Schori, this language was "straight-down-the-middle orthodox thinking," according to The Washington Post.

For David Roseberry, founding rector of the 4,500-member Christ Episcopal Church in Plano, Texas, it was the final outrage.

Jefferts Schori preached her sermon on June 21. Three days later, Christ Church's vestry (its governing board) voted to leave the denomination. Roseberry's bishop, James Stanton of Dallas, has shown openness to letting Christ Church leave with its property. "They bought it. They paid for it," Stanton told The Dallas Morning News.

"When the presiding bishop–elect had a chance to build consensus, she chose to interweave the Cross with radical feminism. It seemed gnostic," Roseberry told Christianity Today, adding that he's aware of English mystic Julian's 14th-century writings.

Roseberry and Jefferts Schori attended the same seminary, Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California, but they were separated by 12 years (Roseberry graduated in 1982, Jefferts Schori in 1994) and plenty of theological differences. For one, Roseberry is an evangelical who emphasizes vigorous parish growth. Starting with a group of 240 people in August 1985, he helped Christ Church become one of the largest parishes in the nation. (The average Sunday ...

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Falling Apart
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August 2006

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