May 15th, 2010
In a celebration reflecting the incredible cultural diversity of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles Diocese, the former Rev. Canon and now the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool was consecrated as Bishop Suffragan. Bishop Glasspool’s consecration marks the second time an openly gay clergy has been consecrated as bishop in the Episcopal Church. She is also the first lesbian to be so ordained.
Also consecrated as Bishop Suffragan was the Rt. Rev. Diane Jardine Bruce. The ceremony was presided by Most Rev. Katharine Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. The event took place before a large crowd in the Long Beach Arena.
The ceremony was briefly interrupted just following the opening prayer by two protesters who were sitting among the congregation on the floor of the arena. First a middle-aged man stood up, held up a sign that I was unable to see from my vantage point, and shouted “Repent! Homosexuality is an abomination to God!” He continued to shout anti-gay slogans as church officials calmly escorted him out of the arena.
After he was escorted out, a smaller child (he appeared to be a pre-teen boy) stood up near to where the man had been standing and shouted, “Homosexuality is an abomination to God.” He, too, was patiently escorted out, while shouting the entire time. Just as he left the arena, someone was heard to yell from the balcony, “we’re praying for you” to the gentle laughter of the congregation, and the ceremony continued.
I was very impressed with the quiet dignity with which church officials and the congregation bore the interruptions, as well as the insults heaped upon them as they entered the arena before the service.
In addition to Westboro Baptist clan who protested at an entrance to the Long Beach Convention Center complex near the arena, a pair of very noisy protesters who appear to have been unrelated to Westboro held signs and shouted anti-gay slogans right in front of the entrance of the arena.
Due to the tight configuration of buildings at the entrance, every attendee of the consecration ceremony had to walk past the protesters as a sort of anti-gay and anti-woman gauntlet. The protesters seemed equally agitated that the bishops being consecrated were women as much as the fact that one was a lesbian. One harangued the gentle crowd with demands that the women grow out their hair long and be subservient to their husbands, “as the Bible commands.” But clearly, it was Rev. Glasspool’s consecration that drew the most condemnation. “A Bishop must be a man married to his wife, not a lesbian to a woman,” he shouted to no one who listened.
Aside from the outburst following the opening prayers, the rest of the three-hour ceremony went off without incident. The Bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, delivered the homily in which he reflected on the diversity of the church:
We are a mixed batch, but we are stronger because we are all of those things. We are stronger because we respect the dignity of every human being, that we stand for their right to stand up and be the people of God. I doesn’t matter what their physical ability is, it doesn’t matter who they are, what race, what country they come from, what sexuality they have. It matters that they are people of God.
In a nod to the protesters, he referred to the point in the ceremony in which the the congregation is asked whether there are any objections. Bishop Bruno said,
I don’t think there was one person in the place that was more nervous than I was about objections. But we didn’t have any objections today from anybody who was an Episcopalian. [laughter] We had people outside and inside who came here because they don’t understand the inclusive nature of the Episcopal Church.
…We, as bishops of this church, are called to be exemplars of Jesus’s presence in this world. We’re called to teach people and bring them to a place of self understanding so that they don’t, out of fear or anxiety or fear of change become Ideological idolaters of the past.
Following that homily, history was made again, when Revs. Bruce and Glasspool were consecrated through the ancient practice of the laying on of hands by a multitude of consecrating bishops. They were then given the Mitre and symbols of office and presented to the congregation to roaring cheers and applause.
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