The head of the national Episcopal Church, The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, will attend a special convention in January to choose a new provisional bishop in South Carolina, a visit that comes amid a painful rift over theology and homosexuality.

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will visit Charleston Jan. 25-26 for the election of the bishop and other diocesan leaders, said Hillery Douglas, chairman of the reorganization steering committee.

“We welcome the opportunity to have her with us at this important time in the history of our diocese, and it will be a privilege to share with her firsthand the energy and diversity of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” Douglas said.

The South Carolina diocese severed ties with the Episcopal Church Oct. 17, after long-standing disagreements over same-sex marriages and the ordination of gay bishops.

Under the diocese’s previous bishop, Mark Lawrence, the diocese renamed itself The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.

The split means South Carolina Episcopal churches that didn’t sever ties have been without a bishop or a Standing Committee, which normally would lead a diocese in the absence of a bishop.

Jefferts Schori will be welcomed with a reception and other special events Jan. 25. On Jan. 26 she will convene a special convention at Grace Episcopal Church, 98 Wentworth St.

A committee of local Episcopalians is working with Jefferts Schori to find a nominee who already is a bishop and could immediately go to work in South Carolina to meet the needs of parishes and people here, said Holly Behre, steering committee communications chairwoman.

In recent years, provisional bishops have been called to serve in other dioceses where groups have broken away from the Episcopal Church.

They lead until those dioceses are ready to install a non-provisional bishop, Behre said.

Jefferts Schori’s last visit to the Diocese of South Carolina was in February 2008.