Bishop Kathryn Jefferts Schori last weekend took office as the head of the Episcopal Church in the US (WaPo, NPR). She's the first woman to lead the Episcopal Church, or, in fact, any major church in America. She also proves that religious organizations, so often conservative and closed, can be progressive and open.
While there are factions that want to split from the church because of the election in 2003 of Gene Robinson, a gay man, as a bishop, Bishop Jefferts Schori has other ideas. According to the NPR item, she's a vocal advocate of gay rights, and supported Bishop Robinson's election. Broadening the church's diversity is one of her primary goals. This is a very sensible approach for an organization that ought to want to be as inclusive as possible, and it's wonderful to see it.
In her own words, she says this:
We're meant to keep on learning and growing, and not stay fixed and stuck in one particular understanding. To leave aside the discoveries of recent science is to ignore part of our God-given gift. To insist that we can only read the bible in one particular way is to ignore the multitude of ways in which God speaks to us....again, refreshingly sensible and open!
What a wonderful choice for leadership of the church. I commend them for it, and shame on the factions that want to split to remain in the dark.