Reverend Mary Douglas Glasspool, an openly lesbian and partnered priest of the United States Episcopal Church, was elected to the office of bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles over the weekend. This makes her the first lesbian bishop and only second gay bishop in the 114-year history of the Diocese after Bishop Gene Robinson took office in New Hampshire in 2004.
In a rare departure from convention, the U.S. church of the international Anglican Communion nominated Reverend Glasspool to assist Bishop Diocesan Jon Bruno in ministering to the region's 70,000 parishioners. Reverend Glasspool (55) is also the 17th woman to be elected a bishop in the Episcopal Church, according to the church's website.
Opposition to the appointment from conservative groups within the Anglican Communion followed quickly, with even Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Communion, reportedly saying Reverend Glasspool's election “raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole”.
Further, according to the Episcopal Church website, Reverend Kendall Harmon, canon theologian from the Diocese of South Carolina, said Reverend Glasspool's election “represents an intransigent embrace of a pattern of life Christians throughout history and the world have rejected as against biblical teaching”.
Yet Reverend Glasspool said, “I am very excited about the future of the whole Episcopal Church, and I see the Diocese of Los Angeles leading the way into that future.” She has been ordained a priest for 27 years.
In support Bishop Bruno emphasised that she would bring years of valuable experience to her new role. He noted, “She is not afraid of conflict and she is a reconciler,” adding that she and her partner of 19 years, Becki Sander, were examples of loving service and ministry. Ms. Sander holds a doctorate in social work.
To a reporter's question about whether Reverend Glasspool might not receive the necessary consent from other dioceses, Bishop Bruno said: “That would be a violation of the canons of this church. At our last General Convention, we said we are non-discriminatory.” He said to not consent in this country out of fear of the reaction elsewhere in the Anglican Communion would be to capitulate to titular heads.