Ecumenical News Service November 3, 2015

The gothic splendour of the Washington National Cathedral saw today the inauguration of the Twenty-seventh Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, with all the pomp and ceremony we have come to associate with the denomination. William Lackland Thessinger III, TEC’s first differently-abled Primate arrived at the great doors of the cathedral with his partner Dick in an elephant howdah generously hired for the occasion by Affirming Catholicism. Descending by cherry-picker, William was welcomed by the Dean of the Cathedral, and by the Most Revd Katharine Jeffers Schori, the out-going Primate.

During the first hymn, which was performed in international sign language by the silent congregation, Will, whose masters degree was in Animal Husbandry, was preceded up the aisle by a procession of farm animals interspersed with Buddhist monks turning prayer wheels.

At the altar, which had been levelled for the occasion (the subject of the new primate’s moving inaugural address) Will and Dick were greeted by Canon Dr Gloria Awumba, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s personal representative, Ali Assad Acqba, Bishop of West Bromwich, and the first Muslim to occupy a See of the Church of England.

Bishop Katharine, in front of the three thousand Episcopalians and visitors from across the communion, asked the solemn questions of inauguration, ‘Will you, with your partner Dick to help you, be a Mother and Pastor to this Church which commends itself to you care? Will you and Dick give to this Church a wholesome example of family life? Will you resist with all the strength that is in you, the alienation of any property or real estate from this Church by disaffected so-called traditionalists?’

As the echo of his firm ‘I will, the creator, redeemer and spirit being my helper’ died away, in the traditional manner of the Episcopal Church, William Lackland Thressinger III placed on his own head the triple crown of the Presiding Bishop and wrested the primatial cross from the hands of his predecessor.

The crowded cathedral responded with the ancient acclamation, ‘Go for it!’ and a crescendo of tumultuous applause.