Katharine Jefferts Schori

February 21, 2014

Seminary Invitation to Episcopal Presiding Bishop Sparks Uproar

An invitation to the primate of the Episcopal Church (TEC) to preach at an upcoming chapel service of an orthodox Anglican seminary has prompted one of the school’s longest serving trustees to resign in protest.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will visit the Nashotah House campus in Wisconsin for the first time on May 1 at the invitation of Dean Edward L. Salmon, Jr.

The resignation of Bishop Jack Iker of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (Anglican Church in North America) “was taken in protest of the Dean’s invitation to the Presiding Bishop of TEC to be a guest preacher in the seminary’s chapel,” read a statement distributed to Fort Worth clergy. Iker cited lawsuits initiated by Jefferts Schori against his Diocese and notified the Nashotah House Board that he “could not be associated with an institution that honors her.”

Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth, who was in Kenya at the Global Anglican Future Conference when an invitation to Jefferts Schori was discussed by the Nashotah House board, resigned (Photo: Episcopal News Service)

Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth, who was in Kenya at the Global Anglican Future Conference when an invitation to Jefferts Schori was discussed by the Nashotah House board, resigned (Photo: Episcopal News Service)

The statement was widely shared on Facebook and clergy blogs.

Iker was joined by honorary board member retired Bishop William C. Wantland of Eau Claire who sent notification that he “will not take part in any functions at Nashotah” nor continue “to give financial support to the House as long as the present administration remains.”

Diocese of Fort Worth Director of Communications Suzanne Gill told IRD that reaction from clergy to Iker’s resignation from the Nashotah House board has been overwhelmingly supportive.

“This is a tragic and unwise decision that threatens the future of Nashotah House,” ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan told IRD in a statement. Duncan also serves on the Nashotah House Board of Trustees.

Nashotah House is one of two accredited seminaries affiliated with the Episcopal Church that are regarded as theologically orthodox. In addition to training Episcopalians, many Nashotah House students are from other Anglican churches. Founded in 1842, it is the oldest existing institution of higher learning in the state of Wisconsin.

In a phone interview with IRD, Salmon explained that the invitation to Jefferts Schori originated when Deacon Terry Star of North Dakota, a student at Nashotah and member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, shared that Bishop Jefferts Schori had advised him against attending the seminary. Star was joined by two other female Episcopal students at Nashotah who indirectly received the same advice.

Former South Carolina Bishop Ed Salmon has defended the invitation of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to speak at the seminary's chapel service (Photo: Nashotah House).

Former South Carolina Bishop Ed Salmon has defended the invitation of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to speak at the seminary’s chapel service (Photo: Nashotah House).

“All three said she [Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori] should be invited to come and see ACNA and TEC in harmony,” Salmon explained. “No one here is fighting with anybody.”

The retired bishop of South Carolina said that the invitation would give the seminary the opportunity to witness to the Christ-centered life.

People think that inviting her here is an endorsement,” Salmon said. “We are a clearly rooted orthodox community – rooted in Jesus.”

Jefferts Schori has repeatedly garnered criticism for making statements outside of the church’s traditional understanding of Christ. As Presiding Bishop-elect in 2006, Jefferts Schori stated “Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation — and you and I are His children.” At Episcopal General Convention in 2009 the Presiding Bishop denounced “the great Western heresy: that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God.” In 2013, Jefferts Schori baffled some in the Anglican Communion over her claim in a sermon on the island of Curaçao that St. Paul of Tarsus’ was wrong to cure a demon-possessed slave girl as described in the Bible.

Salmon, a former bishop of South Carolina, asserted that the seminary is not like a parish church with congregants having various degrees of spiritual rootedness. Instead, the Nashotah House Dean insisted “this is a deeply rooted community” and because of that rootedness, “we are not concerned about the direction of the power.”

Data provided from the Association of Theological Schools shows a total 2012-2013 enrollment of 143 at Nashotah House, with 110 full-time students taking classes. According to Salmon, between 30 and 35 percent of enrolled seminarians are from Episcopal Church dioceses, while “a significant number” of students are from other Anglican churches and many more are non-Anglicans “on the Canterbury trail.”


  • eMatters

    You should never ask non-Christians to “preach” at a chapel service, and you definitely shouldn’t ask an anti-Christian like Schori.

    • Rachel

      Whoa! What happened to that judge not thing?

    • Rex Botengan

      How remarkably snarky and effete…. God bless you. If Nashota House has something to say to the rest of us, maybe it’s a good thing that they are coming out of the shadows. An invite to the Most Rev. Schori is a good start. Otherwise, it will become as relevant as SSPX, where liturgy is praised above service and tradition is valued over human interaction.

  • Cory

    If, like it was claimed, they wanted Schori to see the community and its nature of peace and unity, they could invite her to visit and sit in on a chapel or tour the campus, but not lead a chapel service. That is utter nonsense.

    • K

      Give me a break, if one invites the Presiding Bishop to their church, campus, et al, one does not tell her to sit in the “audience” and watch – if the Presiding Bishop is there and it involves a service – She Presides! Duh!

      • MJRTessman

        It should be said that Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold did just this – sat in “the audience” when he attended commencement in 2001 to receive an honorary DD. He said nothing and wasn’t given the courtesy of offering the primatial blessing. His presence was enough. That said, PB Schori is not being granted a DD, honoris causa, but is being allowed “a voice.” It all seems very inconsistent, if not inhospitable. “See how they love one another?”

    • CS

      She won’t be presiding or celebrating or otherwise leading anything. She will be preaching – speaking for maybe 15 minutes.

  • Kevin Kallsen

    You can watch Bishop Salmon’s Interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKaU1NimDmc

  • cleareyedtruthmeister

    No one in Christendom should give Schori any platform that implies credibility. This fits the definition of useful idiot. She is to Christianity what Nietzsche was to Theism.

    • K

      You and your theories are disgusting! It is obvious that all who have made comments on this subject are not true Episcopalians! I am a cradle Episcopalian and I never in my entire life in my little congregation heard the unchristian, non-acceptance, disrespect for our Bishops and Presiding Bishop, and of the Gospel, as I have read in these comments – I can only say that I am very happy I live on the other side of the USA from all of you – you may have attended more college than I have, and perhaps taken more theology courses than I have, but apparently the real message never was absorbed in all of your training.

      • jsfs

        Amen K! Even with my my stack of degrees which includes a M.Div., I think people miss the whole point with their splitting-hairs theologizing. Sure, there are heresies and what people say matters, but if God the Father wanted Jesus to communicate a Summa Theologica to all us, I think our Lord Jesus would have been born at a later time when it would have been easier for Him to ensure that the teaching were published/circulated. Remember, as far as we know the only thing Jesus wrote was something in the sand, the contents of which we have no clue! As a former Roman Catholic, and believe me I was an ultra-orthodox one, what I love about the Episcopal Church is that there is a variety of opinions expressed from parish to parish and diocese to diocese, but that TEC still remains one. The Father kept things simple when He sent His son Jesus. Theology is not an end, but a means to an End. That End is nothing less than Christ Himself. Some folks like K are blessed not to be so caught up in the weeds of the means (theology) to lose sight of the bigger picture which is Christ Himself. And that Christ for those who know Him, is full of love for His friends. Whenever I have difficulty loving a brother or sister of mine (remember we even need to love our friends), I bring that person into prayer and picture him or her in the embrace of Jesus Who loves that person. If Jesus can love him/her, shouldn’t we? If Jesus welcomes everyone at His table, shouldn’t we? If Jesus died for ALL, shouldn’t we?

    • David

      I am not sure how “useful idiot” fits in with the words of Our Lord, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

      “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” Sadly, calling another Christian seems to fall into the thornbush or thistle category. It clearly falls short of the commandment to love one another.

  • J

    While I do not object to inviting someone with differing views, I do object to the lawsuits over church property. I object to whichever side wins the sexual orientation debate lording it over the minority by suing for property of those churches that wish to leave. I have differing views on sexual orientation than the IRD, aka on the side of the Episcopal Church. However, as long as the local church paid for the construction let them keep the building. If they want to leave let them.

    • K

      The rule has always been that when an Episcopal Church dissolves being an Episcopal Church, the buildings revert to the Diocese – that is it, plan and simple. If you don’t like the rules, get off the ship. Or, if you want to change your church affiliation to something other than Episcopal, build another building.

      • CS

        Actually, it hasn’t “always” been that way. The Dennis Canon (Title I.7.4) was enacted by General Convention in 1979 – and in SC, at least, the state supreme court has held that it has no effect.

  • Mike Waverly-Shank

    I seldom agree with our Presiding Bishop, But to set the record straight she did not originate calling Jesus our Mother. This was first stated 600 years ago by the Lady Juliana of Norwich in her book Shewings of Divine Love.

  • K

    I take offense of the statement given by “eMatters”. To imply that the Episcopal Church in the United States of America’s Presiding Bishop is not a Christian is heresy. This totally disgusts me! I also wish to say to Bp. Iker and Wantland that they are entitled to their opinions, but they do not represent the Episcopal Church! And, I was also naively ignorant of the fact that Robert Duncan is on the Board of Trustees of Nashotah House. I am not happy that our Diocese uses Nashotah House as the seminary to train our priests. Duncan isn’t fit to be anywhere near or have any influence on those who are preparing for priesthood in the EPISCOPAL Church! And any others who think as he does belong in the same category. If all of those with closed minds to what Jesus blessed remain connected with Nashotah House, then I am totally washing my hands of any connection. If non-acceptance and intolerance is what is taught at Nashotah House, than this is not the way of an Episcopalian. If those in power are afraid of a bit of squeaking of the wheel, than perhaps they need to step aside for someone with an open mind and heart. Jesus was accepting and gracious to all – and here sit three people pointing fingers at a woman of God who has the wisdom to push the envelope and throw out a few non-conformist words and ideas. And those of you who, for one – deposed…feels he has the right to denounce the Presiding Bishop’s authority to speak to any congregation in the United States!! His problem is, is that SHE is the one that ordered him to be deposed! And rightfully so. Sorry Nashotah House, but you have lost a supporter.

    • CS

      Wow, K. I think you’ve completely missed the point of the invitation – see the video at the link posted by Kevin Kallsen, above. It may perhaps help you to understand that the House is a place where people of different stripes, and from different churches study, pray, and live together in peace.

      You started being pleased by the invitation to KJS to preach, then you swiftly leap to the (baseless) conclusion that “non-acceptance and intolerance is what is taught at Nashotah House” and say they’ve lost your support. The House teaches neither “non-acceptance” nor intolerance; one handy demonstration of that is the fact that they invited KJS to preach there! Not only that, but the dean has stuck by his decision despite the nastiness that has rained down upon him from certain quarters.

      If you’re going to howl about the importance of tolerance and acceptance of difference, you should try to exercise a bit of both yourself.

    • MM

      Here’s a couple of questions for you:

      1) is it possible that a presiding leader of the TEC could be a non-Christian?

      2) if so (hint: the answer is yes), wouldn’t it be heretical to call that leader a Christian if he/she is not, in fact a Christian?

      3) speaking of heresy, when a TEC leader preaches heresy (direct contradictions to biblical teaching), isn’t it the duty of Christians to call a duck a duck (i.e., identify the heresy)?

      4) and here’s a little diagnostic just for you (please pray and ask God to show you the truth): what is a Christian? Does the Bible have anything to say about that?

  • Earl H. Foote

    In sum, I agree completely with “J.” For the record, I am a parishioner of All Saints Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland. All Saints is a parish in good standing in the Diocese of Washington but has worked out a joint affiliation. Bishop Salmon shares with Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde the spiritual guidance of my parish. I strongly believe that Bishop Salmon did the right thing to invite Presiding Bishop Jefforts Shori to visit the seminary. Both sides in this disagreement need to do a better job of listening to each other, and this event was a step in the right direction.

    • CS

      Thank you. Well and fairly said.

      • Earl H. Foote

        Thanks, CS. I like your posts, too. I pray that both sides will listen to each other and keep the lines of communication open. Isn’t that what Christians are supposed to do?

  • Janet Weidman

    I teach Sunday School to 5 – 8 year olds… and it’s hard to convey in an experiential way “offer the other cheek” and “love your enemy.” (In class, I asked “If someone kicks you in the shin, what should you do?” and one little boy said, “Punch him in the face.” We sometimes *do* feel like retaliating when we don’t feel heard, huh?!) But to read some of these comments, one would think no one bothered to read the Gospel. What would Jesus say or do? Hostile words aren’t active listening words… and don’t lead to peaceful resolutions. Saying someone is non-Christian or anti-Christ is name calling. This is lowering your standards to about the same as the children in my Sunday School classroom. Sad when love is not foremost in our hearts…

  • Michael Mornard

    If she were not female there would be no controversy.

    Any attempt to disguise this as anything other than unadulterated misogyny is an utter lie.

    And God knows that perfectly well.

    • CS

      Oh, no, that is neither fair nor accurate.

      Now, for some people, I don’t doubt that her gender is a part of the problem. Women who exhibit the same behavior as men are generally punished for it in some way (usually subtle, rarely overt). But in this case, there is far more to it than that.

      You must remember that KJS has deposed more bishops and priests than anyone in history, as well as pushed for numerous lawsuits – including forcing litigation in cases where the parties had already reached mutually acceptable, amicable agreements – and has also pushed for those lawsuits to include suits against individuals (e.g., vestry members, not in their capacity as vestrymen but against them personally, so they have to bear the cost of defending themselves, and they risk their families being financially ruined), which she most certainly did not have to do. It’s also worth noting that some of the people she’s deposed and sued (and a couple others – including the chairman and the dean – she tried, but failed, to depose [without justification, which is why she failed]), are on the board, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they are not her biggest fans.

      Honestly, I think that some of the people who are so upset about this are upset, at least in part, because the dean clearly doesn’t live in fear of or thrall do them – he didn’t do their bidding in the first place, he won’t be cowed by their nastiness now and rescind the invitation, and they can’t even (as my mother used to say when we were kids) get a rise out of him, because he won’t return anger and nastiness for anger and nastiness. I think it makes them feel not only powerless, but also perhaps even vaguely ashamed for indulging in anger (worsened by the dean’s refusal to respond in kind), and they don’t like it.

  • Tom Baynham

    I am an ordained Baptist currently active and worshipping in an Episcopal parish in Richmond,Virginia. I am stunned and appalled at the lack of respect many of you have for the Presiding Bishop. Many of you sound like mis-informed “whinny” Baptists. K is correct; when the Bishop is invited, he/she speaks. If you dislike her so much, why are many of you wasting God’s time and your parish’s time by continuing to worship as an Episcopalian?

  • David

    Terms such as “orthodox Anglican seminary” are almost exclusively used by those who are not actually Anglican but rather belong to some splinter group not in communion with the ABC. Often these parishes have a long history of congregationalism orientation ignoring their bishop, ignoring TEC, and often they refused to use office prayer books opting for thing like the “Anglican” Missal and aping pre-Vatican II Roman behavior. Oddly, these seems to have been, and I assume there still is, a disproportionate number of dysphoric and closeted gay men in those who claim to be orthodox. As far as church property goes, it is the responsibility of the various dioceses to maintain ownership and control of the property they own. The ownership of this property is almost always found to belong to the dioceses. Again, those who claim to hold catholic and orthodox purity often are the most congregationalist.

  • David

    Excuse the poor editing

  • Rusty

    Jim Pike has to be laughing his ass off at all of you.

  • gary47290

    Nashotah House (and Iker in particular) are heretics.

    See: Article XXVI
    XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments.

    While I also believe our Presiding Bishop’s ministry is valid, her opponents, in rejecting her for their own reasons, make themselves into heretics.

    • Earl H. Foote

      Why is it that liberals who defy conservative bishops are “boldly and forthrightly speaking truth to power,” but conservatives who defy liberal bishops are … troublemakers?

      • Fr. Norman Whitmire

        This is seen in politics as well as in the church. Liberals push for a change, and conservatives try to maintain the status quo (hence, their names). Unless one feels him-/herself to be included on the side of the status quo, anything less than change is oppressive and undesirable.

  • Jon Benton

    When God comes back in our hearts..we’ll feel it in our churches.
    Also, when God is in our hearts & Churches..we will have civil discourse that LISTENS even to differing opinions while spiritually walking forward…

  • M Strand

    I grew up in the Episcopal church and spent many years of my adult life in the church, but now I am sadly convinced that it is theologically less connected to Christianity than the Church of the Later Day Saints. It will soon be gone, I am afraid – death by suicide. There are many wonderful people and wonderful parts of the church, but they are increasingly living parts of a dying organism.

  • Rev Andrew Gerales Gentry

    Nashotah House is secure enough in its own understanding of core doctrine and the Gospel of Jesus that some CEO deist who holds a degree in marine biology and who has spent over 42 million dollars on trying to deny people property which they bought and paid for as a diocese is no threat to that identity or calling.

  • Paul Zesewitz

    I’m not an Episcopalian. I’ve heard of God being addressed as ‘Mother’ (like many ministers in the UCC), but never Jesus. Personally, I prefer the terms ‘Redeemer’ or ‘Savior’ (or some other gender-neutral term) if the minister feels he/ she can’t call Him SON of God or some other masculine term, like King. If I were an Episcopalian, I would wonder if this seminary, by inviting Schori to speak, is also turning away from conservative theology. Just saying.

  • Chaz Seale

    All this isn’t too complicated. Loving one another means listening to one another. As a lifelong Episcopalian I say “get over it, pastor to your congregations, and love each other.”

  • Fr. Norman Whitmire

    She is the Presiding Bishop and Primate of TEC visiting one of TEC’s denominational seminaries whose purpose is to train and form TEC’s leaders. Regardless of how one feels personally about her, ex officio, she has every reason and right to speak and to preside over sacramental liturgies there.

  • Fr. Norman Whitmire

    In addition, our seminaries should allow space for opposing views, so that our leaders will learn how to coexist and share The Table with those with whom they disagree.

  • Martha

    Jack Iker is not the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, as this article states. That person is The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr. – Iker left TEC, therefore his presence on the Board of Trustees of Nashotah House ceased to be as a bishop of TEC when he left. Faithful Episcopalians continue their witness in that diocese.

    Second,

    • Jeffrey Walton

      Hello Martha, thank you for participating in the discussion on the blog. The article states that Iker is bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (Anglican Church in North America) which is different than the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (Episcopal Church). Prior to his recent resignation from the Nashotah board, I believe Iker was a member due to his election as an individual, not due to his position as an Episcopal Church bishop (as would be the case at Sewanee, where Bishop High is involved). With the exception of General Seminary, all seminaries affiliated with the Episcopal Church are independent entities serving the denomination, not owned or controlled by it. Nashotah educates seminarians of several churches, including the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of North America. I hope that this clarification is helpful.