PB: “we are going to have to pay attention to our neighbors that don’t look gray and white”

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori visited Wilmington’s Cathedral Church of St. John. Her visit included an open question and answer session.

On interfaith work:

She also suggested people learn about other religious traditions. If more Americans understood the roots of Islam, there would be a less encouragement to go to war. And if Americans are more peaceful, it could lower reactivity around the world, she said. She praised Episcopalians in Omaha, Neb., who are working with Jewish and Islamic congregations to buy land and build a common worship facility.

On inclusion of gays:

She suggested that if the Episcopal church had done a better job of listening to dissent in the past — over issues such as women’s ordination and changes in the Book of Common Prayer — the debate over gay rights may have been less volatile. She also said there will always be naysayers and resisters. And she compared the church’s inclusion of gays to the struggle for civil rights after slavery. The change on this “is challenging people who’ve read the Bible in one particular way and seen society in one particular way. Those challenges don’t disappear overnight.”

On membership:

She also pointed out that white Episcopal congregations are not growing. … Yet there are vast numbers of unchurched people to be invited to worship on Sunday morning and the church is growing in Spanish-speaking parts of the hemisphere, in areas such as Haiti and Honduras. “If we want to grow spiritually and numerically, we are going to have to pay attention to our neighbors that don’t look gray and white,” she said. The observation evoked laughter and applause. The bishop also suggested that churchgoers look for gifts among “people who don’t seem quite like us.”

Read it all.

The Diocese of Delaware has posted an album of photos from the event here.

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