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Election of Lesbian Bishop Challenges Episcopal Church

by Staff
December 9, 2009

WASHINGTON, ( -- The election of a controversial candidate for bishop in the U.S. Episcopal Church is exacerbating tensions in the Anglican Communion. The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool of Baltimore will become the first partnered openly lesbian bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion if she is installed as scheduled in May.

Glasspool was narrowly elected on the 7th ballot of voting at the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. She is one of two women elected to serve as a suffragan (assisting) bishop in the diocese. Before her installation, Glasspool must obtain consent from a majority of the church's bishops and diocesan standing committees, a process that will take months.

Candidates elected to the position of bishop usually obtain consent without difficulty. However, the church earlier this year denied consent to a candidate for bishop after his ordination as a Zen Buddhist drew attention to his controversial theology and practices.

Jeff Walton, Director of IRD's Anglican Action Program, commented:

"Glasspool's election is unfortunate because she has unapologetically taken sexual expression outside of the God-ordained boundary of Holy Matrimony. In the view of the wider Anglican Communion, this practice makes her unqualified to serve in the role of a bishop.

"While Glasspool's election continues to draw attention, it is the logical conclusion of the Episcopal Church's liberalizing trajectory. After revoking a moratorium on the consecration of non-celibate homosexual bishops during its July General Convention, the church made clear that it was going to proceed on this route, despite protests from other Anglicans.

"The immediate effect of Glasspool's election will, ironically, serve to benefit the rival Anglican Church in North America (AC-NA) more than anything else. The growing traditionalist body has gradually gained sympathetic friends in the broader communion. These new friends have been pushed away by the actions of the Episcopal Church, more than anything else."

The IRD is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches' social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, and to contribute to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.

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