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Turning tides

16 May 2010

The woman pictured above (facing the camera) is causing quite a stir. Her name is Mary Glasspool and she was ordained yesterday as a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Why the turning tide, you might ask? Well, first of all, she is a continuation of a debate over female bishops in the Anglican Communion. There are only female bishops in four provinces (more or less in line with national boundaries) in the whole Communion: New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and–of course–the United States.  Several other provinces permit, but have no, female bishops; these are: Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, North India, Philippines, Scotland, Southern Africa, Sudan. Meanwhile, the other 22 provinces do not allow women into the episcopacy; 10 of these don’t even allow female  priests, and 7 of these, not even female deacons. Bishop Glasspool is only our seventeenth female bishop.

Our ordaining a female bishop is still somewhat “hot button”, though not nearly as important as the other point: The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool is openly gay. This makes her the second openly gay person ordained to the episcopacy (the first being the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson) in the Episcopal Church–and in the Anglican Communion–and the first openly lesbian at all; note well my use of the word “openly”.

At any rate, this comes after the Anglican Communion at large (mostly voices from the Global South) asked for a moratorium on gay ordination. In a show of this desire to stop any further inclusion of LGBTIQ people, Bishop Robinson (the Bishop of New Hampshire) was not invited to the Lambeth Conference two years ago, the worldwide gathering of “all” the bishops in the Anglican Communion, to which he had every right to attend. Regardless,The Episcopal Church has refused to continue discrimination based upon sexual orientation and has instead decided to follow where the Holy Spirit is leading us. We make no claims that the rest of the Communion or world need follow, but that we are answering God’s specific call to us.

Nevertheless, by letting in yet another gay person into the episcopacy–or the clergy at all–we make an open statement on the issue of LGBTIQ rights. I consider this to be a reflection of Jesus’s radical welcoming, but I see where others might see it as an intentional forcing of Western (specifically American) ideals and agendas onto the rest of the world.

Whether or not anyone likes it, the tide is turning.

Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church, that we all may be one.
Prayers of the People, Form III, BCP 387

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Lee Thomas permalink
    17 May 2010 09:02

    P, This is very well done, obviously (picked it up from FB News Feed, and went here for full text). Inspiring, in fact.
    Your even-handedness at the end is admirable, and yet begs the question: in what possible way can ECUSA be seen as forcing its agenda on the Global South? The unspoken answer, of course: because of our disproportionate financial and geo-political influence. And yet, the vast preponderance of that wealth and influence is used to relieve human suffering around the world. Hence, I’m not feeling particularly apologetic that within our own province (sic) we choose the path of full inclusion and human rights–and we still have a distance to go!

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