The big religious news out of Southern California this weekend is the Episcopal Church’s election of an openly lesbian bishop. The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool will be the Diocese of Los Angeles’ bishop suffragan:
“I’m very excited about the future of the whole Episcopal Church and I see the Diocese of Los Angeles leading the way into that future. But for just for this moment, let me say again, thank you, and thanks be to our loving and supporting God, a surprising God,” Glasspool told delegates to the diocese’s annual convention just after they elected her on the seventh balloting for one of two open suffragan, or assistant, bishop positions.
Referring to the current church season of Advent, a time of anticipation of the birth of Christ, Glasspool said, “This is my 56th Advent and I think I finally know the meaning of the word ‘wait.’ ” The delegates laughed. Glasspool is the church’s first openly gay priest to win election to the ranks of bishops since the controversial elevation of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson in 2003.
Larry Stammer writes that his was an emotional moment for many involved. But it’s an understatement to refer to Robinson’s 2003 election as controversial. Though the riff goes back much farther, his election was schismatic. And Glasspool’s was greeted with warnings from the Archbishop of Canterbury:
The fragile unity of the church will be further imperilled by Canon Glasspool’s election – the second of an openly gay bishop in the US Episcopal Church.
It confirmed fears among evangelicals in the 70-million strong Anglican Communion that crucial votes at last summer’s General Convention of the Episcopal Church had in effect ended the moratorium on gay bishops.
The Archbishop of Canterbury and a majority of the other 38 Anglican primates had requested a moratorium on gay bishops and same-sex blessings in an attempt to prevent the Communion from splitting between evangelicals and liberals.
The Rev Rod Thomas, of the conservative evangelical group Reform, said he was “deeply ashamed” that Canon Glasspool, 55, who has lived with her partner Becki Sander since 1988, hads been elected as assistant bishop in the diocese of Los Angeles.
He said that a schism was “absolutely inevitable”.
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