SALT LAKE CITY – Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori opened the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church with a future-focused address on the mission of the church, and the places Jesus has sends us.
“There is abundant adventure here on this heavenward trek,” said Jefferts Schori, who addressed the gathered joint session of the House of Deputies and House of Bishops. “We are bound for the galaxy called Galilee.”
Jefferts Schori, who will be Presiding Bishop until the installation of a new Presiding Bishop this fall, is a former biologist by trade before becoming a priest. She informed her talk with analogies from science, saying that we will measure this journey in light years and spoke of our holy living as “holographic.”
“We are in this for the long haul as we call on ancient while responding to the new thing that God continues to do in our midst,” said Jefferts Schori.
She said that the church had suffered through chaos and “collateral damage” but because of that, the church is now leaner and more focused on essentials. Part of those essentials is a focus on improving the world around us for all.
“Our lives and health and holiness are bound up with all God’s creation,” said Jefferts Schori.
Jefferts Schori gave the example of NASA as an anology for the church, where “the essential part comes from mission control in Houston” and troubles anywhere alert mission control.
New forms might me missions like St. Lydia’s dinner church, or projects in microhousing, elder housing or co-housing as well as homes for hearing for the trafficked. She asked the church to seek out its “edgy DNA” as it tries new forms.
As the church considers Prayer Book and Hymnal revision, it is learning from the “outposts” creating new forms and adapting old forms.
Part of the church’s work is to come up with a “next generation” operations manual that is more “granular” and specific. It might look different in different places, however.
“Trees have to grow in local soil and adapt to those conditions,” said Jefferts Schori.