Episcopal Church may select another gay bishop
December 3rd, 2009
In 2003 the Episcopal Church selected Gene Robinson, a gay man, as Bishop of New Hampshire. And the Anglican Communion exploded.
Conservatives around the world strongly feel that heterosexual men are the only acceptable leaders of the church. And while it had long been understood that gay men and women were priests in the “reprobate and worldly West”, it was simply unacceptable to them that a gay man should ever be in a position of authority over a heterosexual.
As the world’s second largest Christian church, Anglicans dominate faith in a number of nations, often in countries where homosexuality is seen as a sin more alien than murder and less forgivable than rape. So this decision by American Anglicans (the Episcopal Church is the US branch of Anglicanism) had global consequences.
Since that time, anti-gay Americans (often of other denominations) have worked with foreign Anglicans (usually Africans) to sow discord and seek schism. Several conservative Episcopal congregations, and at least one diocese, broke from the church and sought support and solice from evangelicals with whom they share little other than anti-gay activism.
The Anglican Communion warned the Episcopal Church – and other liberal members – that there was to be a moratorium on gay bishops and a ban on celebrating same-sex unions.
What followed was a good faith effort on the part of Episcopalians to reconcile with the concerns of conservatives. But conservatives felt no need for compromise. They broke communion with the Americans, sought to establish missions in the US, and poached churches. They established a two-tier status whereby only anti-gay prelates could be fully members of the Communion.
It seems now that the Episcopal Church has decided that they have done all that they can. And they refuse to be held hostage to superstitions and bigotries of foreign cultures. They selected a woman as their presiding Bishop and allowed local bishops the authority to allow same-sex marriages in their diocese.
And now they are on the brink of elevating another gay Bishop, this one possibly a lesbian. (Riverside Press Enterprise)
Two of the six candidates to replace two retiring assistant bishops are openly gay. If one or both of them is elected, he or she would become the first bishop in a same-sex relationship elected since V. Gene Robinson was chosen to head the New Hampshire diocese in 2003. That action led dozens of conservative parishes and four dioceses to vote to leave the Episcopal Church. No openly gay bishop has been consecrated since then.
The Washington Times has a profile of one candidate, Rev. Mary Glasspool.
Clergy in the Los Angeles diocese tell me that she’s got a decent chance because her executive experience in Baltimore assisting the bishop and mentoring clergy ranks her above the other five candidates for the two jobs.
It is certainly possible that the church may select any of the other four candidates for the two positions. However, should it do so, it will not be a some form of concession to anti-gay activists. If a new gay bishop is not selected tomorrow, it will be another time soon.
The Episcopal Church has moved on into the 21st Century and refuses to be any longer shackled by the homophobia of Nigerians and Ugandans. It will no longer listen to those at home who would rather align themselves with foreign prelates who would execute gays or condemn them to a life sentence than stay in communion with their gay Christian neighbors. And I think that the Episcopal Church is better for it.