Church lady

Roberta Rambeau

Photo By David Robert

With the election of the 26th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada, it seemed the religious eyes of the world were turned toward our state. Judging not, lest we be judged, we called over to the Trinity Episcopal Church, 200 Island Ave. Parish administrator Roberta Rambeau is in charge of finances and the day-to-day stuff at the church, and she was kind enough to tell us where all this activity fits into the bigger picture. For more information, call 329-4279.

It seems to me all this started a couple years ago with the ordination of a gay bishop.

OK, you’re going in that direction.

I don’t know where we’re going. That’s just seemed like a good place to start.

OK, OK, you’re talking about the changes in the national church. I suppose that’s one of the things that has brought about some differences in thinking.

And what does that mean to the church?

That depends on which side of the fence you are on, I guess.

Could you describe the two sides of the fence?

We have those that believe that homosexuals should not be leaders of the church, and then we have those who see no difference—for instance, our newly elected presiding bishop, who believes that homosexuality is not a sin, and that they have as much right as anybody to be in leadership.

Is that the whole of the American Episcopalian Church, or is that the more liberal part, because it seems to be against the European view of things?

The Episcopal Church, which is an arm of the Anglican Church, is definitely in the forefront of this kind of thinking. And there are other dioceses worldwide that do not go along with it.

It’s very exciting.

Yes, it is very exciting. It’s exciting for Katharine, it’s exciting for Nevada, and it’s definitely a groundbreaker for the Episcopal Church.

She was in Reno before she went to Vegas, right?

She was elected five years ago. The Diocesan office here in Nevada is in Las Vegas. There’s a satellite office here in Reno. She does spend time here in Reno. She does have a residence here in Reno, but she has a residence in Henderson, as well. And that’s primarily where she spends—I would say—probably two-thirds of her time is spent there.

To me, it seems like these are huge civil rights issues [being discussed in your church], I mean not civil rights because it’s church, but the same kind of argument.

It’s the same kind of battle.

So Episcopalians are at the forefront of this battle.

These are issues that face all of us at one point or another, be it a religion or anyplace else. It just happens to be that it’s come to the forefront here.

Now with Jefferts Schori’s election, there was a division with the gay bishop thing from a couple of years ago, this seemed to throw fuel on the fire of that disagreement between the different factions of the church.

Well, you’re always going to have your conservative versus your liberal. That’s what this is bringing out. You have those dioceses and parishes that will not go along with a woman in leadership. Period. I mean, they just don’t believe that women belong there.

But that’s …


Seems to me that it’s archaic.

But you have to understand that in the Episcopal Church, as in the Anglican Church, we’re talking 4-500 years of leadership, and it’s all been men. There are nine female bishops in the U.S. There are three countries in the world that acknowledge women in leadership roles: us, Canada and New Zealand. And that’s it. The rest of the world doesn’t see it as a viable position for a woman.

But we’re back to “Isn’t that archaic?” and I guess it’s not if there’re only three countries that view it as archaic.

Well, do you have any women priests in the Catholic Church?

No, I don’t believe they do. Or married priests for that matter. She’s married, right? Doesn’t she have a daughter?

Yes, she has one daughter.

How well do you know her?

I’ve come into contact with her when she’s up here for various things where I’m involved. I wouldn’t say I know her real well, but I know her well enough to talk to her. She’s a very open person, very easy to communicate with. She knows people. She’s responsive to people. I really like her. I think she has an excellent way about her. I think she will make a wonderful presiding bishop. She’s committed.

Not to sound crass, but doesn’t it take some politicking to get elected to that position?

I don’t know anything about that. I’m just this little lowly peon down here.

I saw today that they voted to not stop having gay bishops.

I think that there is no reason not to ordain them in any leadership.

We could talk about this all afternoon.

This is the way I look at it. We’re all God’s people. God made us differently. Does that mean that some are better than others? I don’t think so. He didn’t differentiate, why should we?

You’ve got to look at how the world is, and obviously, there are a lot of people within your church who don’t agree with you.

There are a lot of people in the world that don’t agree. It doesn’t have to be within the church.

It seems like a kind of hypocrisy. If you look at it just the way you said it, “We’re all God’s creatures,” who feels confident enough to second-guess God? That’s just weird to me.

You’re right. It is hypocritical, but that doesn’t mean that people are going to stop doing it. Human nature being what it is, we have to deal with people who feel that they’re better than others or that they don’t want to sit next to a gay or a black or a Hispanic or whatever. Anybody that is different from what they are, they don’t want to be a part of.