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Lesbian clerics married by bishop in US

06 January 2011

by Ed Thornton

THE Bishop of Massachusetts, in the United States, the Rt Revd Tom Shaw, officiated at the marriage of two lesbian Episcopalian clerics in St Paul’s Cathedral, Boston, on New Year’s Day.

A statement issued by the Episcopal Divinity School (EDS)in Cambridge, Mass., on Sunday said that the marriage of the Very Revd Katherine Ragsdale, who is its dean and president, and Canon Mally Lloyd, was “historic”. It took place before almost 400 people.

Bishop Shaw was quoted as saying: “God always rejoices when two people who love each other make a lifelong commitment in marriage to go deeper into the heart of God through each other. It’s a profound pleasure for me to celebrate with God and my friends the marriage of Katherine and Mally.”

Dean Ragsdale, who has not been married before, said: “When I grew up, I never believed I would be able to have someone special in my life, and now to have almost 400 people show up to support us at our marriage ceremony is wonderful.”

Canon Lloyd, who is 57, has three grown-up children by a previous marriage. She and Dean Ragsdale “each have a spiritual life that the other understands”, she said.

In November 2009, Bishop Shaw announced that he would allow clergy in the diocese of Massachusetts to “solemnise all marriages”, the EDS statement said. Same-sex marriage was legalised in Massachusetts in 2004.

The statement acknowledged that “the Episcopal Church’s canons and formulary still state that marriage is between a man and a woman,” but noted that, at its General Convention in July 2009, the Church had decided that “bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.”

The president of the American Anglican Council, the Rt Revd David Anderson, told the online Evangelical newspaper The Christian Post that the ceremony was an “action of reckless disregard for the life of the Anglican Communion”.

The ceremony follows the consecration last year of the Anglican Communion’s first openly lesbian bishop, the Rt Revd Mary Glasspool, who was consecrated in California alongside another woman bishop, the Rt Revd Diane Bruce (News, 21 May). It emerged this week that the 2011 Anglican Cycle of Prayer did not include the names of either Bishop Glasspool or Bishop Bruce.

A campaign was launched on Facebook, “Anglicans for An Anglican Cycle of Prayer for ALL Anglicans”, stating that it would “like to encourage the ACO [Anglican Communion Office] to review their files and update the prayer list”.

A spokesman for the ACO said: “The online Anglican Cycle of Prayer is linked to the Provincial Directory. When the latter is updated with new information, so is the former. . . To my knowledge, we have not as yet had an official update from Los Angeles regarding their newest bishops, which is why the entries are not correct. Once we do receive an update, we will, of course, make the necessary changes.”

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