Original post 12/6/09
One of the goals of UTF's mission statement is to understand our opposition. A lot of the time that leads to reporting on religious groups opposing our civil rights. But I'm always happy to report on other religious groups who fall under the far opposite position.
The Episcopal Church is one of them.
Recently, they lifted their self-imposed ban on ordaining openly gay bishops after much deliberation, despite the fact that it has caused a major schism with its sister Anglican Church in Europe, who doesn't view LGBT people the same way. They will also soon be crafting a blessing specifically for married same-sex couples. They have left it up to their parishes to decide for themselves whether or not to marry gay couples. Recently in Massachusetts, the local Episcopal bishop gave permission for priests in the eastern part of the state to do just that.
Here in Los Angeles, the Episcopal Church has decided on another amazing act of equality. After meeting in Riverside, CA on Saturday, church leaders elected for the first time in the church's 114-year history two women to be bishops - Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce, 53, the rector of a San Clemente church, and Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, 55, for the Dioecese of Los Angeles.
What's even more historical about this vote is that Glasspool has openly been in a relationship with another woman for over 20 years. She is a the first gay bishop elected for the Episcopal Church since Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003.
Los Angeles Times reports:
Convention delegates said that Glasspool's sexual orientation was only one factor in their decision, which came on the seventh ballot for the position. They called her a gifted priest with extensive diocesan experience in her current role as canon -- or executive assistant -- to the bishops of the Diocese of Maryland.Rev. Glasspool has released the following statement:
"I don't think it's a referendum on electing a woman or a gay person," said the Very Rev. Mark Kowalewski, dean of St. John's Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles. "Those are secondary characteristics.
Gracias con todo mi corazon. I am not unaware of the many complicated dynamics that have been part of this election -- and I want to acknowledge them. Any group of people who have been oppressed because of any one, isolated aspect of their persons yearns for justice and equal rights. My own heart has been stressed deeply today. To Martir, I honor you and pledge you my ongoing love and support. To my Latino and Hispanic brothers and sisters, I say we're all in this together. We are all working to bring forward the reign of God on earth. So thank you with all my heart.This is great not only for those outside the LGBT population who view us as an "ungodly" group that disrespects religion in all forms and thus view us a bit differently, but it's also good for the LGBT population itself, to see that we have a great, wonderful variety among us. It shows us that religion itself is not bad, that it can be accepting, loving and uplifting. Unfortunately, it can be the people who believe in religion and abuse the name of religion that can cause the problems that we suffer under.
It is such an honor and a privilege to be among you wonderful people of the Diocese of Los Angeles. I'm deeply and forever grateful for the trust you've shown in me, and I look forward with great excitement to serving together with you, and alongside +Jon and Diane+, in furthering the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ in the world -- in whose name we are all honored to serve.
It has also been an enriching experience to get to know five incredible human beings who have dedicated all of their considerable gifts and life skills to the life and love of the Lord. You all can probably guess that it takes a lot of effort, even courage, to put yourself out there for public examination, questioning, and then voting. It speaks well of the Diocese of Los Angeles that a variety of such well-qualified people stood and stand before you. I hope you will continue to pray for all of us, as we continue to respond to God's call wherever that takes us. May I add my profound thanks to Bishop Bruno and Julian Bull and to all the Search Committee who worked very hard for lo these many months to get us all to this day.
I'm very excited about the future of the whole Episcopal Church, and I see the Diocese of Los Angeles leading the way into that future. But just for this moment, in the coming months, to getting to know you all better, as together we build up the Body of Christ for the world.
The Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool
December 5, 2009
Hopefully this will a be a great reminder to us and to the rest of the nation that the LGBT people can embrace religion and that religion can embrace the LGBT people.
Recommended: Karen Ocamb's story on Glasspool's election.
Photo credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times