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First Woman Elected as Leader of US Episcopal Church

The first woman presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal church has taken office. Katharine Jefferts Schori now leads a church of more than two million people divided over the ordination of a gay bishop. She assumed the post Saturday.

At a ceremony at the National Cathedral in Washington, Jefferts Schori took leadership of the U.S. church amid the growing rift between American and other Anglicans around the world.

The majority of Anglicans around the world hold conservative views on sexuality. But the U.S. branch in 2003 consecrated the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, whom Jefferts Schori personally supported.

Speaking at her investiture service, Schori said the Anglican church must work to heal the rift. "If some in this church feel wounded by recent decisions, then our salvation, our health as a body, is at some hazard, and it becomes the duty of all of us to seek healing and wholeness," she said.

Schori is now the first woman ever to head a branch of the Anglican Communion.

Shortly after her election, some conservative U.S. dioceses asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to replace her.

In August of this year, an American Episcopal reverand was consecrated as a bishop for a new group of Anglicans in the United States who are alienated by the church's support for the openly gay Bishop.

That Bishop, Martyn Minn, was consecratred by the Anglican church of Nigeria.