Griswold 'Confidently' Passes Staff to New Woman Head

Bishop Frank T. Griswold concluded his nine-year term Tuesday as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. As he is succeeded by Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to head the body, Griswold is continuing public ministry.

"As Presiding Bishop I have been privileged to travel extensively in other parts of the world and to experience the complex realities with which our brother and sister Anglicans live day by day," said Griswold, according to the Episcopal News Service. "This has given me an enlarged sense of what it means to be an Anglican in a global context."

Jefferts Schori encouraged his continuing work in the Anglican church, saying he has "much more to offer us all." The soon-to-be-invested bishop asked Griswold to lead the Episcopal Church's deputation to the "Toward Effective Anglican Mission" meeting in March 2007. Griswold will also be serving at New York's Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine as canon for International and Interfaith Ministry.

There is controversy over the new presiding bishop for her being female and also a supporter of homosexuality. Her election this year prompted conservative dioceses to distance themselves from the U.S. body and request for a new overseer from the Anglican Communion.

Jefferts Schori had expressed her condoning of homosexuality and same-sex “marriage,” causing further division in the Episcopal Church after the ordination of the first openly gay bishop - V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003.

Griswold, confident that Jefferts Schori would bring the wide range of opinions to the global Anglican meetings, has continually expressed his support for the new head.

"I will confidently entrust the piratical staff to Bishop Jefferts Schori knowing that the church will be ably led and further strengthened by the gifts of mind and spirit so evident in her," he commented, according to the church’s news service.

He and Jefferts Schori had recently met with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in London where the new woman head of the U.S. body and the head of the worldwide Anglican body had frank conversations and began interaction.

"I was pleased to see the warmth of cordial interaction between the Archbishop and the Presiding Bishop-elect," said Griswold, who had requested the visit last Spring to introduce his successor to Williams.

Jefferts Schori will be invested as the 26th presiding bishop on Nov. 4 at the Washington National Cathedral.

Meanwhile, Griswold will continue public ministry with such works as lecturing in seminaries, conducting retreats and conferences, and writing books.

"Now, relieved of the relentless pace of the Presiding Bishop's daily calendar, I can pursue things in greater depth," said Griswold. "I look forward to sustaining relationships and to building on the experiences of the last nine years without the demands of the present schedule."