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Chose the Pulpit Instead of Teaching : New Episcopal Bishop Ready to Tackle Big Job

January 16, 1988|MATHIS CHAZANOV | Times Staff Writer

"That means that if the church wants to hear the voice of God, it means listening to these people," he said. "And therefore, if we're going to respond to God, it's not just by helping them, it's by listening to them."

Although he said he does not think "there's any need for a bishop to get media exposure simply for the sake of media exposure," Borsch said he hopes to make the Episcopal Church more vocal on the issues of AIDS, poverty, homelessness and help for undocumented immigrants.

"Part of me wants to be very active and part wants to think and reflect before action takes place," Borsch said. "I'm trained to analyze very carefully, and I want to bring that gift to social action.

"We need not just knee-jerk rhetoric and a quick fix, but carefully thought-out reflection followed by the right kind of bold action that will be helpful to others."

Although the number of Episcopalians is relatively small--there are as many Catholics in Los Angeles (about 2.5 million) as there are Episcopalians nationwide--Borsch said he expects to work with Roman Catholic Archbishop Roger M. Mahony on issues of concern.

"I look forward to meeting Archbishop Mahony," he said. "We're a smaller church but we have resources, too, and we can make common cause on a number of issues."

Known formally as the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the Episcopal Church is one of 28 regional and national churches that make up the Anglican Communion.

Although they recognize the Archbishop of Canterbury as their spiritual leader, Episcopalians share much of the pomp and many of the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. Their priests are allowed to marry, however.

Membership has been static in recent years, but Borsch said he hopes to expand by recruiting believers among people who do not belong to any church, especially new arrivals from Latin America and the Pacific Rim.

"Let's be honest about it," he said. "The Episcopal Church has a pretty Anglo image and we've never been very good at that. Still, we have a number of wonderful members who are Hispanic or from Asia, and we need to empower them."

Borsch, who married Barbara Edgeley Sampson in 1960, is the father of three grown sons. He said his wife will find it hard to leave her job on the staff of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey but added, "She's a great human being and she's looking forward to it (the move)."

Borsch is the author of 11 books, most recently, "Many Things in Parables," which is to be published this year.

He lists his interests as history, writing, poetry, tennis, canoeing, jogging and "sports generally."

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