October 22, 2008

More than two years ago, Columbus, Ohio, was the site of the historic election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the 26th Presiding Bishop -- and the first female leader of a major denomination in the world. She returned to Columbus October 7-8 to receive an honorary doctorate of divinity from Bexley Hall Seminary.

The Presiding Bishop also preached during a festive choral Evensong at Trinity, Capitol Square, where bishops cast their ballots for her during the 2006 General Convention. Trinity dedicated a special plaque in her honor.

Jefferts Schori recalled the legacy of Philander Chase, the founder of Bexley Hall Seminary as well as several churches in Ohio, Louisiana and Illinois. Chase was "an apostle who loved frontiers and who pushed boundaries," Jefferts Schori said in her sermon on October 8 in the Gloria Dei Chapel at Trinity Lutheran Seminary.

She challenged the seminarians and others in the audience to boldly claim their place in God's frontier, to be willing to push boundaries and step outside comfort zones to bring the glory of God to all people.

"The more we can work together with our companions on the journey, the more effective our ministry will be," she said. The importance of relationships is illustrated by the African concept Ubuntu, which means, "I am because we are." This concept is the guiding theme for the 2009 General Convention in Anaheim, California.

Bexley Hall also presented two other honorary degrees to newly consecrated Bishop of Maine, the Rt. Rev. Stephen Lane, and Robert van Niel, the former board treasurer and chairman of the seminary's investment committee.

"It meant something to the people of Trinity for the Presiding Bishop to come to a downtown parish in a city that's trying hard but has seen its share of struggles," Burnett said. "To assure us that people are praying for us was a wonderful call to ministry."