ANAHEIM, CA The Episcopal Church's presiding Bishop said that it is "heresy" to focus on personal salvation.
In her opening address to the Episcopal General Conference, Katharine Jefferts Schori called salvation, "the great Western heresy: that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God."
Schori also stated that it is heresy to believe that a personal prayer can achieve salvation.
"It's caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus," said Schori. "That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being."
The address was delivered to a denomination in crisis as the Episcopal Church continues to struggle to keep its members united. Since the 2003 election of the denomination's first gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, many congregations have pulled away from the Episcopal Church and others have aligned themselves with the Anglican Church.
The General Conference is also expected to deal with homosexual marriage, politics and poverty.
Rev. Julian Dobbs of the Anglican Church responds in video.