Katharine Jefferts Schori

The newly elected presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church lists as her major qualifications for office positions at two institutions shrouded in mystery and without any formal accreditation – if they exist at all.

That’s the finding of an investigation of the rise of Katharine Jefferts Schori, 52, a pilot and oceanographer and strong advocate for same-sex marriage and homosexual ordination by Virtue Online, which describes itself as “the voice for global orthodox Anglicanism.”

Schori and the nominating committee for the election that took place in June list as Schori’s major qualifications the following positions she reportedly held:

  • pastoral associate and dean of the Good Samaritan School of Theology, Corvallis, Ore., from 1994-2000;

  • priest in charge of El Buen Samaritano, Corvallis, Ore.

Terry Ward, a writer for Virtue Online, says he could find no record of the existence of the Good Samaritan School of Theology in his examination of the web pages and church newsletters of the Good Samaritan Church of Corvallis, Ore., the web pages of the Episcopal Church USA and the Oregon and Nevada Dioceses, the web pages of the Association of Theological School, which lists all accredited and affiliated institutions in the U.S. and Canada.

“None of these sources showed any evidence that the ‘Good Samaritan School of Theology’ existed as an independent organization with staff or facilities,” Ward wrote. “There was no mention of the school or of the titles or positions (dean, pastoral associate) associated with the school.”

But there is now.

Just do a search for the school and you will find dozens of references to it, in USA Today, Washington Post and other major papers – all involving the election of Schori and her reliance on that major qualification.

There is no trace of the Good Samaritan School of Theology in the city phone directories of Corvallis or Benton County, Ore.

Asked in writing to explain her reference to this presumably phantom school of theology in her resume, Schori responded: “The Good Samaritan School of Theology was the then-rector’s term for all adult education programs, both internally and externally focused. They included initiation of such programs as Education for Ministry; ‘popcorn theology’ (movies and discussion); a weeknight meal and education offerings for all ages; Lenten and Advent series; satellite downlink programs with discussion (begun in the days when ECTN and Trinity were doing so many effective ones); invited speakers; Sunday adult forums; inquirers’ classes; confirmation classes; and so on. At one point, the School offered a set of historical liturgies, about seven or eight from the time of the church father Hippolytus through the 1928 Book of Common Prayer; the series featured instructed Eucharists.”

Asked to explain “El Buen Samaritano,” and her priestly duties there, Schori explained: “El Buen Samaritano was the Spanish-language congregation based at Good Samaritan, essentially a parochial mission. I acted as vicar with primary liturgical and pastoral responsibility.”

Schori won election in June at the church’s General Convention in Columbus, Ohio. Episcopal bishops elected her on the fifth ballot. She was the only woman among seven candidates.

The Church of England does not yet allow women bishops and is not expected to until at least 2012. But the Episcopal Church – the American version of the Anglicans – began accepting women priests and bishops 30 years ago. However, churches in California, Illinois and Texas still bar women clergy.

In her state, the Episcopal Church blesses same-sex unions and Schori is an advocate for such ceremonies. In 2003, she supported the election of a homosexual bishop, Gene Robinson, in New Hampshire.

At the General Convention that elected her, Schori gave a sermon that included a reference to “Our Mother Jesus.” She said: “That sweaty, bloody, tear-stained cross bears life. Our Mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation, and we are his children.”

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