Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Episcopalians, a Call for Unity after Divisions; Denomination's Presiding Bishop Visits Region for 2011 Convention

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Episcopalians, a Call for Unity after Divisions; Denomination's Presiding Bishop Visits Region for 2011 Convention

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY

Episcopalian Karyn Brode had hoped to receive Communion Friday from her denomination's top spiritual leader, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori.

"I was right there at the corner and missed her by one person," said a smiling Brode, who runs outreach ministries at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in downtown Jacksonville. "It's a bummer."

But that missed opportunity was far outweighed by the joy Brode felt hearing Jefferts Schori preach at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral. The humor-laced message of unity was just what North Florida's Episcopalians needed to hear after the difficult, dark years of divisions caused by the doctrinal differences over homosexuality, she said.

"The splits and all the drama, it was draining," Brode said. "And to have the subject [of the sermon] be 'one body' - it was wonderful."

Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, preached to a packed house of clergy and lay delegates of the 168th annual convention of the Jacksonville-based Episcopal Diocese of Florida. The convention began with the 4 p.m. Eucharist service and continues today at the cathedral and at the Marriott Hotel.

The homily compared the diocese, the denomination, the nation, the world, other cultures and religions to the human body. The body is healthy when its different parts work in harmony, but breaks down when they don't, Jefferts Schori said.

The miracle of the human body is that its different limbs and organs, together with digestive bacteria and other micro-organisms, can work together to create a healthy life. But sometimes the body turns on itself, creating antibodies against needed organisms it perceives as outsiders and threats.

National socialism and the genocide in Rwanda were examples of "one part of the human body seeking to eliminate another." Allergic reactions also are examples of the body overreacting to outside agents. …

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