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Lesbian bishop is consecrated in US

by
19 May 2010

by Rupert Shortt

TEARS, jubilation, and muted protest marked the consecration of the An­glican Communion’s first openly lesbian bishop in California last Sat­urday, although the event drew swift condemnation from tradition­alist groups and from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a brief statement, Dr Williams described the ceremony as “regret­table”, and said that it placed a ques­tion mark over the place in the Com­munion of the Episcopal Church in the United States. The crit­icism was echoed by Evangelical groups in Ireland, among other places.

A press release published jointly by the Church of Ireland Evangelical Fel­lowship and three other bodies argued that the consecration represented “a clear rejection of the many pleas for gracious restraint” set out in the Windsor report and made by the latest Primates’ Meeting.

The Rt Revd Mary Glasspool — who is 55 and has had a relationship with her partner, Becki Sander, for 19 years — was consecrated alongside another woman bishop, the Rt Revd Diane Bruce, aged 53. Having been elected in December, the two will serve as suffragans in the Los Angeles diocese (News, 11 December).

The three-hour service on Saturday was held at the Long Beach Arena. Rep­resentatives from Native Ameri­can tribes welcomed the 3000-strong congregation, and sang in praise of the two Bishops-elect as they pro­cessed in. In a ser­mon often inter­rupted by laughter and applause, the Bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt Revd Jon Bruno, said that he had once opposed the or­dination of women, but had later changed his mind.

“The world’s transformed only if we turn to each other and every one of our brothers and sisters, and see the face of Christ superimposed on them,” he said. “The ones we disagree with the most are the ones we’re obligated to share our lives [with] and teach the most.”

The liturgy was conducted in Span­ish, Korean, and Tagalog (a Filipino language), as well as English, and featured performances by Kor­ean and African drummers. About 30 other bishops were in attendance.

The Presiding Bishop of the Epis­copal Church, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, was principal conse­crator; among the seven co-consecrators was the Rt Revd Barbara Harris, who became the first woman bishop in the Communion in 1988. “Mary . . . is going to make a very good bishop,” Bishop Harris said. “She’s a wonderful . . . pastoral person.”

The service has been widely com­pared with the consecration in November 2003 of the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt Revd Gene Rob­inson, the Communion’s first gay bishop with a partner. While match­ing that event in exuberance, the consecration of Bishops Glasspool and Bruce entailed a far smaller security presence. There were only two protesters: a man and a boy who held up a sign and a copy of the Bible, while chanting anti-gay slogans.

Speaking on the eve of her con­secration, Canon Glasspool told reporters that her election provided “a benchmark for the whole Church”. “We are being the Church that we say we are. . . So I’m looking forward with great awe as well as joy and some ‘wow’ to whatever the Holy Spirit has in mind.”

A statement from the conservative group Anglican Mainstream recalled Dr Jefferts Schori’s recent letter to her fellow Primates, in which she con­firmed that the election of Canon Glasspool reflected the settled mind of the Episcopal Church. “Sadly,” the statement said, “this shows that [the Episcopal Church] has now explicitly decided to walk away from the rest of the Com­munion.”

Anglican Mainstream believes that three consequences should follow from Bishop Glasspool’s consecra­tion: that the Episcopal Church be excluded from the Communion’s representative bodies; that “a way must be found to enable those ortho­dox Anglicans who remain within the Episcopal Church to continue in fellowship with the Churches of the worldwide Communion”; and that the traditionalist Anglican Church of North America “should now be recognised [as] an authentic Anglican Church within the Communion”.

THE row over Bishop Glasspool’s consecration is a further illustration of the need for the Anglican Coven­ant, traditionalists have argued, writes Rupert Shortt.

THE row over Bishop Glasspool’s consecration is a further illustration of the need for the Anglican Coven­ant, traditionalists have argued, writes Rupert Shortt.

Strong opposition to aspects of the proposed Covenant was voiced during the General Synod of the Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Poly­nesia last week.

Strong opposition to aspects of the proposed Covenant was voiced during the General Synod of the Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Poly­nesia last week.

Dr Tony Fitchett, representing the diocese of Dunedin, led a successful challenge to the fourth section of the Covenant. “The general thrust of Section 4.2 remains as it began,” he said, “that a Communion-wide body . . . can discipline a province and rec­om­mend its exclusion from Communion structures.”

Dr Tony Fitchett, representing the diocese of Dunedin, led a successful challenge to the fourth section of the Covenant. “The general thrust of Section 4.2 remains as it began,” he said, “that a Communion-wide body . . . can discipline a province and rec­om­mend its exclusion from Communion structures.”

Voting on a motion proposed by Dr Fitchett, the synod approved the first three sections of the Covenant in principle. The same motion asks the Standing Committee of the An­glican Communion to seek the opin­ion of legal advisers “regarding the appropriateness of the provisions of Clause 4.2.8”.

Voting on a motion proposed by Dr Fitchett, the synod approved the first three sections of the Covenant in principle. The same motion asks the Standing Committee of the An­glican Communion to seek the opin­ion of legal advisers “regarding the appropriateness of the provisions of Clause 4.2.8”.

Rebutting Dr Fitchett’s concerns, a statement from the Anglican Communion Institute insisted that the fate of the Communion hinged on “accountability” and “autonomy”.

Rebutting Dr Fitchett’s concerns, a statement from the Anglican Communion Institute insisted that the fate of the Communion hinged on “accountability” and “autonomy”.

A province such as the Episcopal Church in the United States, “that consecrates Mary Glasspool against the expressed mind of all [the Com­mu­nion’s instruments of unity]”, was “determined” to divide the Church, the statement concluded.

A province such as the Episcopal Church in the United States, “that consecrates Mary Glasspool against the expressed mind of all [the Com­mu­nion’s instruments of unity]”, was “determined” to divide the Church, the statement concluded.

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