Schori -- who was elected on the fifth ballot -- becomes the first woman to head a denomination in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
She will succeed Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, who is scheduled to retire in November when his nine-year term ends. Schori's election to lead the 2.3 million-member denomination comes 30 years after the church first allowed women to become priests -- and may heighten tensions between Episcopalians and other branches of the Anglican church, The Washington Post reported.
Episcopalians angered many conservatives in the United States and overseas three years ago, by electing the openly gay V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as a bishop.
Jefferts Schori, 52, a former oceanographer, backed Robinson's election in 2003, the Post reported, while the runner-up in Sunday's race for presiding bishop, Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley, opposed consecrating Robinson.