Soon after Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada sealed her victory as the Episcopal Church's 26th presiding bishop, a question posed by a British academic illustrated the denomination's clash of worldviews.

Christopher Sugden of Anglican Mainstream said the average Anglican believer today is an impoverished African woman, younger than 30, and an evangelical. How did Jefferts Schori think such a believer would respond to the Episcopal Church's advocacy on behalf of its gay and lesbian members?

Jefferts Schori said such a woman likely would be focused on hunger, safe housing, unclean water, and providing for her children. Concerns about sexuality, she said, would appear only later in the hierarchy of need.

Asked the same question at a subsequent news conference, the Rev. Canon David Anderson of the conservative American Anglican Council said that the closer people are to death, the more they are concerned with where their soul will spend eternity.

The church's house of bishops Sunday elected Jefferts Schori to serve as presiding bishop for nine years, beginning in November. The Very Rev. George Werner, president of the House of Deputies, asked before the announcement that everyone in the legislative chamber remain silent out of respect for their neighbors' feelings. Nevertheless, many people gasped or—in the case of several women—cheered at the news.

Jefferts Schori, 51, completed master's and doctoral degrees and worked as an oceanographer before her ordination to the priesthood in 1991. "My training as a scientist has given me the gift of looking at the world carefully, and investigating," she said at a news conference about an hour after her election was announced in the house of deputies.

Conservatives were quick ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.