Hope of what is still to come… BP#
On Wednesday, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles officially approved the election of Mary Douglas Glasspool as their first openly partnered lesbian bishop. The move from the Episcopal diocese of Los Angeles to elect 55-year-old Reverend Canon Mary Glasspool, who has been in a relationship with another woman since 1988, comes months after the US church lifted a ban on gay bishops. Glasspool was functionally elected bishop along with in Diane Jardine Bruce December of 2009 but both had to wait for consent of their election from the Office of the Episcopal Church which was finalized March 30th 2010. Upon her election a flood of local, national and international support, praise, skepticism and criticism had poured in, as well as speculation about the impact of the elections of the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce and, more specifically, the Rev. Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool, within the local and global church relations.
Episcopal Bishop Jon Bruno addressed such concerns, as well as those about diversity, during a meeting with reporters at the conclusion of the Dec. 4-5 “Faith & Our Future” convention held at the Riverside Convention Center in Riverside, California. “The people of Los Angeles elected these women,” said Bruno. “The people of the Diocese of Los Angeles said … we want at least one woman. Well, they got double their wish.” A majority of the 680 clergy and lay delegates attending the two-day gathering on Dec. 4 elected Bruce on the third ballot from among a field of six candidates. A well-known Los Angeles area priest, Glasspool had served for nine years as rector of St. Clements by-the-Sea Church in San Clemente. She became the first woman bishop in the diocese’s 114-year history, the 16th woman elected bishop in the Episcopal Church, as well as the 2nd Gay Bishop to be elected within the history of the world wide Episcopal Church (Bishop Gene Robinson was consecrated the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church in 2003 in New Hampshire).
On March 31st, however, the Leader of the world wide Episcopal church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams emailed a statement to the Episcopal News Service from Lambeth Palace, saying, “it is regrettable that the appeals from Anglican Communion bodies for continuing gracious restraint have not been heeded.” Archbishop Williams had previously reacted in December to Glasspool’s initial election and said at the time that “the outcome of the consent process would have important implications for the communion” and that “further consultation will now take place about the implications and consequences of this decision.”
Bishop David C. Anderson, President and CEO of the American Anglican Council, issued a statement echoing the concern of the Archbishop of Canterbury and going one step further. “What this means is the majority of The Episcopal Church’s leaders - down to the diocesan level throughout America - are exercising no restraint as requested by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the primates of the Anglican Communion. Despite pleas to the contrary, they have given their consent for a partnered lesbian to become a bishop, not just for Los Angeles, but for the whole church,” the bishop added. “Unfortunately,” he continued, “this comes as no surprise because The Episcopal Church, at its General Convention this summer, voted in favor of allowing dioceses to determine whether they will conduct same sex blessings using whatever rites they deem appropriate. Even if The Episcopal Church should eventually decide to sign an Anglican Covenant, it has shown time and time again that it will not abide by traditional Christian and Anglican Communion teaching on marriage and sexuality.”
The Anglican Church faces the same kind of turmoil that erupted in 2003 when openly gay Reverend Gene Robinson of New Hampshire was elected bishop, sparking joy from liberals but outrage among traditionalists, particularly in Africa. The more liberal stance of the Episcopalian leadership has increasingly divided congregations within the United States in recent years, prompting some conservative parishes and dioceses to leave the national church. It has also had wider implications on the worldwide Anglican Communion, which for years has struggled to unite liberal and conservative fringes that are diametrically opposed on the issue of gay bishops.
Knowing this, and acknowledging the tumultuous climate within the wider Episcopal Church Glasspool issued this statement following her election, “I am also aware that not everyone rejoices in this election and consent, and will work, pray, and continue to extend my own hands and heart to bridge those gaps, and strengthen the bonds of affection among all people, in the Name of Jesus Christ”. It is my hope and prayer that those within the Episcopal Church that find themselves on either side of the debate will take the time to follow her lead, to extend their own hearts and hand to bridge the gaps in the community of faith to enable the fellowship of the church as well as its continued mission of grace, hope, love, and peace to the world.