Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bishop-elect Glasspool began her ministry in Chestnut Hill

from The Chestnut Hill (PA) Local

by Clark Groome

When the Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool was called to be assistant to the rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill she was the first woman to serve on the staff of the local parish.

On Dec. 5 she was elected to be one of two bishops suffragan (an elected assistant bishop) in the Diocese of Los Angeles. While not the first female bishop (she will be the 17th), she is the first openly gay woman elected to the episcopate.

Arriving at St. Paul’s in 1981, the newly ordained deacon and recent seminary graduate began her ministry only a few years after the Episcopal Church officially allowed women to become priests.

Since then Glasspool has had a distinguished career that has put her at the center of many important and controversial changes in the Episcopal Church.

Going back to her early days at St. Paul’s, she said in an interview for that parish’s 2006 sesquicentennial history that there was some resistance to her being called to St. Paul’s.

The parish’s rector at the time, the Rev. James R. Moodey, “was very intentional about wanting to promote women’s ordination and do so in a way that kept in mind the totality of the church,” Glasspool said.

“My first day on the job, Jim gave me a list of people to go visit,” she said. “I didn’t know this but it was the five or six people who had been most verbal about their doubts about having a female priest.”

Apparently she won the day.

“I don’t remember that there was a lot of talk about [having a woman priest], said the Rev. James C. Ransom, who was the other assistant to the rector when Glasspool arrived. “St. Paul’s has always been supportive of the ordination of women.”

After serving St. Paul’s for three years, she was called to be the rector of St. Luke’s and St. Margaret’s Church in Boston. While there she was again at the center of one of the church’s defining moments.

In 1988 she placed the Rev. Barbara C. Harris’ name in nomination to be bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Massachusetts. After shepherding her candidacy, Glasspool watched as her old friend from Philadelphia was elected the first female bishop anywhere in the Anglican Communion.

After several more years in Boston, she became the rector of St. Margaret’s Church in Annapolis, Md., a position she held from 1992 to 2001. Since then she has been canon (assistant) to the bishops in the Diocese of Maryland.

Jim Ransom has the unique perspective of having worked with Glasspool both at the beginning of her ministry and, up until he retired two months ago, with her in Maryland. He described her as a priest “of deep faithfulness.”

Her father was priest and so, Ransom said, Glasspool grew up in the church.

“From an early age she embraced the Christian understanding of things as the way they should be,” he added. “She lived with the reality of God in her life from a very early time. God is at the center of everything she does and thinks and how she lives. That shows immediately when you’re with her.”

Her gifts propelled her to be nominated to become one of the two bishops suffragan elected by the Diocese of Los Angeles on Dec.5.

Once again, Mary Glasspool is at the center of a defining moment for the church. While the election of women to the episcopate has become a familiar and mostly accepted practice since Harris’ election in 1988 – the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop and primate is a woman – Glasspool, 55, is only the second openly gay person to be elected a bishop in the church. Since 1988 she has been in a committed relationship with Becki Sander.

When V. Gene Robinson, a partnered gay man, was elected bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, many in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, of which the American church is one of 38 autonomous provinces, were not pleased. The issue of the role of gays in the church hierarchy was controversial, with some provinces supportive, others uncertain and several vehemently opposed.

Unlike many Anglican provinces where bishops are appointed, the members of an American diocese elect their bishops, an act that must receive the consent from a majority of the standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction in the church’s 110 dioceses.

Robinson received the necessary consents. The controversy that followed led to an intentional moratorium on the election of openly gay priests to the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops. That moratorium was lifted at the church’s 2009 General Convention.

Glasspool’s candidacy arose on the heels of that triennial convention’s decision that, basically, leaves the decision up to individual dioceses while recommending that all tread softly and only go in that direction when they are sure that the person, regardless of his or her sexuality, is the most qualified for the job.

Her election has, not unexpectedly, created some controversy, although everyone contacted for this article believes that she will receive the consents she needs.

The Rev. Glen M. Matis, president of the Diocese of Pennsylvania’s standing committee, believes that Glasspool’s election will be ratified and will have the support of the local diocese.

The Diocese of Pennsylvania’s assisting bishop, Rt. Rev. Rodney R. Michel can’t vote because he’s not the diocese’s elected leader. In a recent conversation Michel said, “If I had a vote I would vote for Mary enthusiastically.” He, too, believes that Glasspool will garner the support necessary.

Barbara Harris, whose election was also the subject of controversy, agrees that she will be confirmed.

“She is an excellent priest,” Harris said in a recent telephone interview. “She has a good sense of pastoral care, which is important [to a bishop]. She has a view of a diocese beyond the confines of a parish ministry having served for these past eight years as canon to the bishops of Maryland.

“I think she has had a well-rounded ministry that has given her some understanding of the role of a bishop suffragan.”

Speaking after her election Glasspool said she was “honored by the trust that the people voting in that convention showed in me.”

“My feeling,” she continued, “is that the Episcopal Church is moving ahead. This is a progression. It’s not an earthquake or anything.

“I and my brothers and sisters who may be more conservative than I, and my brothers and sisters who may be more liberal than I, as long as we can come together at Christ’s table to celebrate and receive the Eucharist, we’re OK. Beyond that, we need to work it out.”

St. Paul’s current rector, the Rev. E. Clifford Cutler, has known the bishop-elect since they served parishes in Pennsylvania and moved almost simultaneously to Massachusetts: Glasspool in late 1984 and Cutler in early 1985.

“Mary has a keen sense of justice,” Cutler said. “She’s a very fine priest.”

If confirmed, she will be the fourth member of the clergy to serve St. Paul’s who went on to become a bishop. The other three are: the Rt. Rev. William Hobart Hare, the parish’s second rector (1860-1863) and, from 1873-1909, bishop to the Native Americans in what was then called the Diocese of Niobrara and is now South Dakota; the Rt. Rev. Malcolm Endicott Peabody, St. Paul’s rector from 1925 to 1938, then bishop of Central New York from 1938 until 1960; and The Rt. Rev. James R. Moodey, the man who brought Mary Glasspool to St. Paul’s. Moodey was St. Paul’s rector from 1976 to 1983 and bishop of Ohio from 1983 until 1993.

“I think Mary will get the consents,” Cutler said. “This is an issue in our communion that we don’t have agreement on and yet we can disagree and be members of the body of Christ. Churches have disagreed forever. I hope for a maturity that will allow the communion to still be together as we work through some of our different ways of interpreting scripture and our life together.”

Church law requires that the standing committees and bishops vote on her election within 120 days of being notified of it. That means that the results will be in no later than the end of March. If confirmed, she will be consecrated bishop in Los Angeles on May 15, 2010.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

New L.A. Episcopal bishop's historic journey

Raised a Catholic, Diane Bruce felt she'd 'come home' when she attended an Episcopal service officiated by a woman. Now, 23 years later, she is the L.A. Diocese's first female assistant bishop.

By Duke Helfand -- [source link] -- December 27, 2009

The Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce still remembers the moment 23 years ago when she fell in love with the Episcopal Church.

Raised as a devout Roman Catholic, Bruce happened to visit an Episcopal parish in New Mexico, where the mother of a friend was officiating.

Bruce was moved by the joy inside the sanctuary and delighted by the sight of the female priest, something prohibited by the Catholic Church. She found unexpected similarities between the two approaches, including the Eucharist.

"There was something about being in an Episcopal church that felt like I had come home," she said.

Two decades later, Bruce would make history by becoming the first woman elected suffragan, or assistant bishop, in the 114-year history of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Bruce's ascent at the diocese's annual convention earlier this month was eclipsed to a large degree by controversy over the election at the same event of an openly gay priest, the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool of Maryland, to a second assistant bishop's post.

But many in the Los Angeles diocese speak of Bruce, the longtime rector of St. Clement's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in San Clemente, in reverential tones.

A banking executive for 17 years before she entered the priesthood, Bruce is widely credited with saving her San Clemente church from economic ruin. Her banking background has put her in high demand throughout the diocese, with top leaders and church rectors seeking her counsel.

Those who know Bruce, who is married with two adult children, also say she is spiritual, direct and self-effacing, a priest who knows how to minister to rich and poor alike. She is a cancer survivor who speaks three languages -- Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese -- and understands the diocese's multicultural makeup, they say.

"If people looked at who Diane is, they would be absolutely amazed," said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, the diocese's primary bishop.

Bruce says she feels no ill will about Glasspool's capturing so much of the spotlight. "It never occurred to me that any attention would be paid to me being the first woman [bishop] because it's been done before" in other dioceses, she said.

Bruce grew up in Pequannock Township, N.J., which, as she points out, is perhaps best-known as the birthplace of New York Yankees star Derek Jeter.

One of five children (she has a twin sister four minutes older), she attended Catholic school as a girl, including daily Mass that gave her "a rich sense of peace."

Bruce fell into banking at 24, when a friend of her father's suggested that she apply for a training program with San Francisco's Crocker Bank (later bought by Wells Fargo). She spent the next 17 years at Wells, managing various units, including those responsible for international banking operations and incentive compensation plans for commercial and corporate officers.

It wasn't until Bruce was 30 that she found her way to the Episcopal Church -- on that chance visit to the New Mexico parish with her college roommate.

A short time later, she attended another service by a female priest back home in suburban San Francisco. Afterward, she said, she heard a voice. "When are you going to stop running and say yes to me?" it asked.

She began taking classes and soon was received into the church.

She decided to pursue the ministry, ultimately being ordained to the priesthood in 1998.

When she arrived at St. Clements in San Clemente in 2000, she found a church that was $10,000 in the red and nearly unable to meet payroll.

Members had fled and pledges had dried up as two rectors left in the 1990s amid accusations of personal or sexual misconduct, according to longtime church members and diocese officials.

Bruce scrutinized contracts for such things as copy machines, and she looked for bargains on items as seemingly insignificant as bathroom soap.

She addressed the financial crunch at Sunday services, telling parishioners at one point that the church could hire a Sunday school director for the monthly interest it was paying on $30,000 in bank debt. Within a short time, the church had raised the money, according to Bruce and Audrey Daigle, who was the church's senior lay leader at the time and also served on the search committee that found Bruce.

"We saw in her a very dedicated, faithful person," Daigle said.

At the end of Bruce's first year, St. Clements was operating in the black, Daigle recalled. The church began to grow again, attracting some who had left and newcomers, including Spanish-speakers.

Jon and Karin Sherman, who had drifted from the church, were among those who found renewed commitment. "We have gone from distance to involved again," Jon Sherman said.

During her years as a priest in the diocese, Bruce has advised other churches on fundraising, and served on the diocese's investment trust board and as president of its standing committee of elected lay and clergy members that approves such things as property transactions and candidates for ordination to the priesthood.

The Rev. Canon Brad Karelius at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana, where Bruce served as an intern and associate rector, recalled her ability to move comfortably among different groups.

"She's able to speak to very poor immigrants as well as very well-to-do matriarchs," said Karelius, who nominated Bruce last spring for the assistant bishop job. "She can talk to anybody."

Not long after Bruce was nominated, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She decided to continue her quest for the job -- six candidates were vying for the two slots -- even as she underwent chemotherapy, at one point introducing herself in a video to the diocese wearing a head scarf but noting that her doctor had given her a clean bill of health.

Bruce's hair was stubbly when she appeared at the December convention, but she betrayed no sign of fear over the bout of cancer.

"I've never felt alone," she said. "No matter what the struggle, I felt God was walking with me."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

COMMENTARY: Never say "never"

by Susan Russell

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

I grew up in the Episcopal Church here in Los Angeles. I learned to sing these words to the Magnificat – one of the scriptures appointed for this Fourth Sunday of Advent – as a Junior Choir member in a church that wouldn’t let me be an acolyte because I was a girl. I met my first woman priest in the 1980’s – a decade after the “irregular” ordination of eleven women in Philadelphia in 1974 opened the way for women in the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. And I remember the great drama that unfolded over those ordinations here in the Diocese of Los Angeles – including the four congregations who tried to leave the diocese (and take their buildings with them!) in protest.

And on December 4th & 5th I watched with awe as this diocese – my Diocese of Los Angeles – elected not one but two women as Bishops Suffragan to help lead us in our work and witness into the 21st century. My spirit rejoiced – in God my Savior and in Los Angeles, my diocese.

And I will never say “never” again.

Faced with the challenge of electing two new bishops from an extraordinary field of six deeply faithful, diversely gifted priests – including our own incomparable Zelda Kennedy – I watched with such deep gratitude as the careful, prayerful work that went into the months long discernment process unfolded. And in the end, when the last ballot was counted and the last declarations signed by the delegates and Bishops-elect Diane Jardine Bruce and Mary Douglas Glasspool stood together at the podium and led us in Evening Prayer I knew that we who were privileged to be part of that electing convention were also privileged to be witnesses to history.

The bishops-elect took very different paths to that historic moment. One was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and found the Episcopal Church as a young mother. The other was raised in the Episcopal Church as the daughter of a priest who disapproved of the ordination of women. Both are extraordinarily qualified to serve in both the pastoral and prophetic roles we expect in our bishops and both will be tremendous additions to the House of Bishops – where they will be the 16th and 17th women to be seated in that house after their May 15th consecrations.

As we come to the end of this Advent season of preparation we will open our hearts and our minds once again to the amazing mystery of the Word made flesh and dwelling among us in the miracle of the Christmas story. We will rejoice once again in the scandal of the incarnation – of a God who loved us enough to become one of us in order to show us how to walk in love with one another. And this year, let us rejoice as well that we belong to a God whose capacity to draw us into ever-widening understandings of peace, joy, justice, compassion and incarnation didn’t end in Bethlehem with the birth of Jesus. Or in Philadelphia with the ordination of eleven women priests. Or in Riverside with the election of two bishops-suffragan.

Let our souls proclaim and our spirits rejoice in both the challenges and opportunities ahead – for us, for All Saints Church and for this Diocese of Los Angeles -- as we watch and wait to see what our “never say never” God will do next!

[from Saints Alive -- the weekly newsletter of All Saints Church, Pasadena]

On the radio

Click here to listen to the Monday, December 14, 2009 segment of KPFK 90.7's "IMRU" radio show focused on the Diocese of Los Angeles episcopal elections and the challenge to the Archbishop of Canterburyto speak out against the anti-homosexuality legislation pending in Uganda.


"A faith rooted in the denial of papal authority and kingly authority, a faith that in the United States has increasingly championed egalitarian principles, should hardly be cowed by contingent bigotries masquerading as universal truths."

By Harold Meyerson [source link] --December 15, 2009

Those Angeleno Anglicans are at it again.

For decades, the Episcopal Church in Los Angeles has been home to some of the most liberal pulpits and congregations in town -- and in the worldwide Anglican Communion. A few years back, Pasadena's venerable All Saints Church was investigated by President George W. Bush's Internal Revenue Service after its former rector delivered a vehement antiwar sermon shortly before the 2004 election. Local Episcopal priests have marched for striking janitors and helped organize the poor.

So it should have come as no great surprise when the L.A. diocesan convention recently elected as its new assistant bishop the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool -- the senior assistant to the bishops of the Maryland diocese, the daughter of an Episcopal priest, and an open lesbian. Her ordination must now be confirmed by the U.S. bishops, who have already been told in no uncertain terms by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself to back off.

"The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect," wrote Archbishop Rowan Williams, "raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole."

The archbishop can hardly be blamed if he sometimes shudders at the thought of pesky American progressives. In 2003, the U.S. bishops ordained a gay bishop for their New Hampshire diocese. In 2006, they elevated the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori to the post of presiding U.S. bishop, the first woman to head a national branch of Anglicanism -- and not just a woman but a woman who allowed the blessing of same-sex couples within her diocese.

Within months of Schori's elevation, a number of more traditionalist Episcopal dioceses around the nation announced that they were leaving the U.S. church and affiliating with more conservative dioceses -- in some cases, with African dioceses where the thought of a woman priest, let alone a gay or lesbian bishop, had yet to cross many minds.

The conservative Anglicans, chiefly in Latin America and Africa, vastly outnumber the American Episcopalians -- there are more than 80 million members of the worldwide Anglican Church, while the American Episcopal Church is home to about 2 million members, including the secessionists. And because the conservative wing has made it clear that there's no place for gay bishops and the like in its vision of Anglicanism, a formal schism is at least a possibility.

Even as the archbishop gazes in dismay at the Episco-libs to his left, a meddlesome pope has now popped up on his right. Without any advance notice to his Anglican brother, Pope Benedict XVI recently announced that the Roman Catholic Church would take to its bosom any Anglican clergy or congregations that want to affiliate with a reliably orthodox church in which the pope's word is law. The congregations could keep their liturgy; the priests (the male priests, that is), their wives.

What the archbishop is really up against is the relativism, the historic particularism, of religion itself. It is sheer folly to expect traditionalist African Anglicans and progressive Pasadena Episcopalians to adhere to the same norms of gender equality, absent either a stunning cross-cultural agreement or a top-down Roman Catholic-style structure. Conservative Episcopalians, who decry the increasing egalitarianism of the American church, want traditionalist transnational norms in every Anglican diocese.

But a common complaint of American and European conservatives against Muslims is that Islam itself is a monolithic faith unsuitable for the pluralistic West. We don't have to accept this characterization of Islam to recognize that it is close to what Anglican traditionalists are advocating for their own church.

Besides, if ever a church were rooted less in timeless truths than in historic particularities, it is Anglicanism, and the Episcopal wing of Anglicanism most of all. Anglicanism began, after all, because the pope would not sanctify Henry VIII's divorce, and Henry used the opportunity to seize the church and all its properties. Episcopalianism began when the leaders of the American Revolution (two-thirds of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were active or, like George Washington, nominal Anglicans) realized they could hardly stay religiously affiliated with a church headed by the very king against whom they were rebelling secularly.

Given the schismatic and distinctly secular nature of Anglicanism's and Episcopalianism's origins, the pending ordination of L.A.'s lesbian bishop seems well within the church tradition. A faith rooted in the denial of papal authority and kingly authority, a faith that in the United States has increasingly championed egalitarian principles, should hardly be cowed by contingent bigotries masquerading as universal truths.

Harold Meyerson is editor at large of the American Prospect and an Op-Ed columnist for the Washington Post.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Yes, Virginia: There IS a via media!

Convergence trumps compliance in Dallas debate
-- by Susan Russell

Giving up on the television news this morning when I couldn't find anyone talking about anything other than Tiger Woods, I turned to cyber-news land and found this feature on Saturday's "debate" between bishops Katharine Jefferts Schori and William Frey in my inbox. It is totally "a keeper."

I'm posting the whole piece below and hoping you'll not only read it but forward it and save it for future reference re: the story I'm more tired of than I am of Tiger Woods. And that story is: "The Episcopal Church Splits: Film at Eleven."

Or not.

In spite of the uber-efforts of the schismopalians to spin that story for lo these many years now, the truth reads more like this: "The Episcopal Church Stretches: And there's room for you." Really.

If a three hour theological debate between Bishops Jefferts Schori and Frey can end with a hug and Bishop Frey's summation, "I heard a great deal of convergence," then I say we declare victory for the via media and get on with the mission and ministry of the church!

Because here's the real "breaking news:" If there's room for Katharine and Bill then there's room for you -- and for me. And for countless hungry souls out there yearning for hope and community and the spiritual sustenance that will empower them to go out into the world as agents of love, joy, compassion and justice. And that is precisely what is on the menu for the feast "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" to!

There is some sad news: There are going to continue to be those who put themselves outside that banquet hall because their criterion for being included is being agreed with and because convergence isn't enough for them: they need "compliance."

But no matter how much we yearn to gather absolutely everybody into this Big Fat Anglican Family of ours, the gospel we serve will NOT be served if we allow it to be hamstrung by those who insist our differences have to be divisions. The church will not grow if we focus more on those who might leave if we include everyone than we do on those who will come if welcome all. And the kingdom will not come closer if we allow the mission of our church to be held hostage by fights over consents to a qualified and duly elected bishop in Los Angeles when the world is calling us to fight injustice & oppression.

Yes, Virginia: there IS a via media. It is ours to rejoice and be glad in. AND it is ours to protect and preserve. And may the God grace give us the grace we need to do both of those things as we celebrate these waning days of Advent and look forward with joy to coming of our Lord Emmanuel!


No fireworks at Episcopal bishops' debate in North Dallas
By SAM HODGES / The Dallas Morning News

[Dallas - source link] One bishop spoke deliberately, professorially, with flashes of droll humor and poetic phrasing. The other told stories from his long ministerial career, rounding them off with insights into Christian faith and practice.

But what had been billed as a debate between the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, and the Rev. William Frey, retired Episcopal bishop of Colorado, yielded much common ground and no outright conflict on the identity and meaning of Jesus.

"I heard a great deal of convergence," Frey said afterward.

The three-hour Saturday morning event packed the 700-seat sanctuary of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in North Dallas, which brought the speakers in as part of a lecture series.

Jefferts Schori, the Episcopal Church's first female presiding bishop, has been criticized by theological conservatives on a number of fronts, including for refusing to say that belief in Jesus is the only way to heaven.

The Rev. Robert Dannals, rector of Saint Michael and All Angels, sought to balance the program with Frey, a longtime leader of the Episcopal Church's traditional wing.

That wasn't enough for one local Episcopal priest, who said he and five colleagues wrote a letter to Bishop James Stanton of the Diocese of Dallas, protesting his decision to allow Jefferts Schori's visit. (Under Episcopal law, a diocesan bishop must give permission for a working visit by another bishop.)

"She hasn't guarded the faith. She has attacked the faith," said the Rev. Canon H.W. Herrmann, rector of the Church of Saint David of Wales in Denton.

But at times on Saturday, Jefferts Schori sounded like a pitch-perfect voice of orthodoxy.

"Jesus is the ultimate sacrament of God in human flesh – that's what we're getting at when we say he's the only son of God. He's the unique demonstration of divinity in human flesh," she said.

Other times, Jefferts Schori took risks, including referring to Jesus as the "green savior" who requires that Christians protect the environment as part of God's creation.

She also wasn't afraid to get topical.

"The challenges of our current age include the ancient human desire to find a scapegoat, with the familiar targets in this society right now being Muslims and immigrants and gay people," she said. "Jesus' own witness is to continually reject that kind of response, for it always ends in violence and diminution of life."

Frey, much more anecdotal, also noted the requirements of Christians to work for justice and help the poor and marginalized.

But he stressed fidelity to the Bible, the personal transformation offered by faith in Christ and the importance of sharing the gospel.

"The church that doesn't evangelize will be evangelized by the culture in which it finds itself," he said.

During questions and answers, the bishops took on abortion, the role of faith in healing and whether non-Christians can get to heaven.

"It's not up to us to say this person's out" of heaven, Jefferts Schori said. "It's up to God."

At the event's conclusion, the bishops embraced and drew a standing ovation. Among those who were pleased was Stanton – the Dallas bishop and a well-known conservative who has differed with Jefferts Schori on church issues.

"I thought it was a very constructive dialogue," Stanton said. "It was nourishing to everyone, I think."

At a news conference afterward, Jefferts Schori would say little more than that "prayer and discernment" were needed as Episcopal Church leaders decide whether to approve the recent election of a lesbian as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The question of gay bishops has roiled the Episcopal Church and exacerbated its tensions with the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bishop-elect Glasspool in the New York Times

NEW YORK (AP) -- The lesbian priest who was elected assistant bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles said Tuesday that she was upset by claims that her role in the church is divisive.

The Rev. Mary Glasspool said that she was aware her win troubles some people, but that she believes her election last weekend was mostly ''liberating'' for the denomination.

''I've had hundreds, probably a thousand, e-mails from people all over the world who don't know me but who are expressing through the fact of my election a pride in the Episcopal Church,'' Glasspool said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

''I've committed my life as a life of service to the people of Jesus Christ, and what hurts is the sense that anybody might have that my name or my servanthood could be perceived as divisive.''

Glasspool is the second openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and the world Anglican fellowship. The first was New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, whose 2003 consecration caused an uproar and widened long-developing rifts over what Anglicans should believe.

Just hours after Glasspool's election, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Anglican spiritual leader, said in a statement that the vote raised ''very serious questions'' for the divided church, and he urged restraint in moving forward with her consecration.

Glasspool needs the consent of a majority of Episcopal dioceses before she can take the job of bishop suffragan. The 55-year-old clergywoman, who has been with her female partner since 1988, said she read the archbishop's comments on her laptop in her California hotel Sunday and found the statement ''a tiny bit absurd'' because he doesn't know her.

''Our Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori does have a personal relationship with the archbishop of Canterbury, and I need to let them work that out,'' Glasspool said.

Read the rest here.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"For the record"

Consider filing away these fun-facts-to-know-and-tell about the Episcopal Church in general and our policies on ordination in specific. Pull them out when the Letters to the Editor get it wrong. Use them when you reply to blog posts or comments. Let's keep the record straight (so to speak!) as we keep the church moving forward!

From our canons (since 1994)

"All Bishops of Dioceses and other Clergy shall make provisions to identify fit persons for Holy Orders and encourage them to present themselves for Postulancy. No one shall be denied access to the selection process for ordination in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, or age, except as otherwise specified by these Canons." -- Title III, Canon 4, Section 1 of the Constitution and Canons for the Government of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, p. 60

From GC2009-D025

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm the value of "listening to the experience of homosexual persons," as called for by the Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, and 1998, and acknowledge that through our own listening the General Convention has come to recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships "characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God" (2000-D039); and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church, and that God's call to the ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church is a mystery which the Church attempts to discern for all people through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge that members of The Episcopal Church as of the Anglican Communion, based on careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and in light of tradition and reason, are not of one mind, and Christians of good conscience disagree about some of these matters. [source link]

From the Presiding Bishop last week on NPR:

NPR: So the bottom line is it fair to say that at least the door has been opened for gay and lesbian bishops in addition to Bishop Robinson.

KJS: The door has been open for many years.

NPR: So if an openly gay or lesbian person were to make it through to the stage where he or she could be consecrated bishop you would go ahead with that.

KJS: It is my duty, my canonical duty as Presiding Bishop, to take order for the consecration of a bishop whose election has been affirmed by the consent process.

NPR: The Archbishop of Canterbury said that we need to have a real thorough exploration of all of this and we need to have a wider consent within the communion in order to go ahead with either the consecration of gay bishops or blessings of gay unions. He said that does not exist in the communion right now. How do you feel about that?

KJS: The conversations been going on in The Episcopal Church for 45 years. The reality is that same-sex unions are blessed in many churches of the Anglican Communion. Not just in the United States or Canada, but in the Church of England. Not officially but that is reality.

NPR: Do you think there is scriptural basis for what the convention did and what is it.

KJS: The scriptural basis for what the convention affirmed about our discernment process is that each human being is made in the image of God. [source link]

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's a brand new day!

The Bishop and Bishops-elect of the Diocese of Los Angeles

Remember that "crucifed place" we were told we needed to stand in "for a season?"

We have moved to the resurrection place in the Diocese of Los Angeles. Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Episcopal Church in the news

As we prepare to head for Riverside and the upcoming Diocesan Convention, here's a quick "round up" of some of the items in the news about the Episcopal Church in general and the Diocese of Los Angeles in particular.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise filed this report on the upcoming election of two new bishops suffragan; the Washington Times also reported on our election process in this piece by Julia Duin; and in a recent radio interview, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori answered questions about where we "are" as the Episcopal Church in regards to the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments.

Here's a "take away" quote from that interview that will serve us well as we move toward this 114th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles ... and beyond!

"I see challenge as an invitation to growth. Challenge tells us that we're taking notice that we haven't yet arrived at the fullness of the kingdom of God and therefore we have work to do. In the Episcopal Church that has to do with celebrating our reality as a multicultural church and discovering the reality that there are vast numbers of unchurched people around us who are hungry for the hope that the gospel offers. And there are countless numbers of people who need the hope that this church offers in its ministry to those on the margins."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Prayers for the 114th Convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles

Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel the Diocese of Los Angeles for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a bishop for this Diocese,that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bishop Suffragan Q&A webcast now online

The November 21st webcast of the Q&A Forum with the candidates for the upcoming bishop suffragan election here in Los Angeles is now archived online here.

Please do keep all our candidates ... along with the delegates to the December 4-5 Diocesan Convention and the whole Diocese of Los Angeles ... in your prayers as we prepare to elect two new bishops suffragan.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Marching in the Light of God

An important part of the ministry of LGBT Episcopalians and our straight allies over the years has been our presence at southland Pride Parades, giving visible witness to the welcome of the Diocese of Los Angeles to ALL who come seeking communities of faith committed to love, justice, inclusion and compassion.

Here is "work in progress" slide show of PRIDE PARADES PAST: [if you have photos to contribute to help fill in the gaps, please email us at]

Thursday, November 12, 2009


A Background Paper on Gay and Lesbian Inclusion
(in the Episcopal Church in general and in the Diocese of Los Angeles in particular)
Compiled by Susan Russell and updated March 2013

SOME HISTORY: The Episcopal Church has been officially debating the issue of human sexuality, particularly as it applies to gay and lesbian people, since 1976 when General Convention resolutions began to frame the parameters of the debate.

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is a bicameral legislative body made up of lay people, clergy and bishops. It meets every three years and is the only body that can authoritatively speak for the whole church.

In 1976, the General Convention asserted in a resolution A069 that "homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the Church."

But there continues to be a wide diversity about just how we live out that understanding in the Episcopal Church.

In 1991, at the General Convention held in Phoenix acknowledged its inability to resolve the complex issues surrounding human sexuality by means of the normal legislative process. The Convention opted instead for a process of continued study and dialogue across the whole church, with a report to be issued from the House of Bishops.

In 1994, that report, “Continuing the Dialogue,” was published and is highly recommended as a resource for more detailed information.

While resolutions from General Convention are important aspects of our polity - the process through which we govern the church - they are generally perceived to be recommendatory and therefore lacking the force of a canon or law. The only canon to deal with the issue of homosexual orientation in any specific way was adopted in 1994:
"All Bishops of Dioceses and other Clergy shall make provisions to identify fit persons for Holy Orders and encourage them to present themselves for Postulancy. No one shall be denied access to the selection process for ordination in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, or age, except as otherwise specified by these Canons." -- Title III, Canon 4, Section 1 of the Constitution and Canons for the Government of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, p. 60
In 1996, the Court of Trial for a Bishop refused to hear charges filed against Bishop Walter Righter for ordaining a gay man living in a relationship. The court said there was no doctrine against such an ordination and that there is no canonical bar to gay and lesbian ordination in the Episcopal Church.

In 1998, the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops, meeting in July at their every ten-year gathering in Canterbury, passed Lambeth Resolution 1:10 -- which was entitled "Human Sexuality" and included the majority opinion of the bishops gathered at that conference that "homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture" and "cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions."

Much energy has been spent over the intervening years debating whether that language was descriptive of the bishops gathered at Lambeth '98 or proscriptive for the wider communion.

In December 1998, the Diocese of Los Angeles responded to the bishops at Lambeth by passing a resolution "that this convention cannot receive that portion of Section (d) "'rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture.'"


1997 [Philadelphia]
C024 APPROVED HEALTH BENEFITS FOR DOMESTIC PARTNERS, to be extended to the partners of clergy and lay employees in dioceses that wish to do so.
D011 It also voted to APOLOGIZE ON BEHALF OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH to its members who are gay and lesbian and to the lesbians and gay men outside the Church for years of rejection and maltreatment by the Church and affirm that this Church seeks amendment of our life together as we ask God's help in sharing the Good News with all people.

2000 [Denver]
(A009) The IDENTIFICATION OF “SAFE SPACES,” establishing a formal process for congregations to identify themselves as safe spaces for GLBT people;
(C031) recommending that congregations engage in dialogue with the BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA REGARDING THEIR POLICY ON HOMOSEXUALS
(D039) Arguably the most influential resolution adopted in Denver was D039 “Human Sexuality: Issues Related to Sexuality and Relationships.” Passed overwhelmingly by a voice vote in the House of Deputies and by a 119-19 margin this important resolution broke new ground by moving the Episcopal Church into conversations about relationship that transcend sexual orientation.

2003 [Minneapolis]
In addition to consenting to the election of V. Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire, the 2003 General Convention in Minneapolis passed a landmark resolution moving the church forward on the blessing of same-sex unions:

(C051) Blessing of Committed Same-Gender Relationships

Key resolves included:

4. That we reaffirm Resolution D039 of the 73rd General Convention (2000), that "We expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God," and that such relationships exist throughout the church.

5. That we recognize that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.
.These two important steps -- consent to the election of an openly gay, partnered bishop and the recognition that the blessing of unions falls "within the bounds of our common life" -- became a flash point for those insisting that the differences that challenge us cannot be bridged, but must become divisions that separate us.

2006 [Columbus]
Following the gains made in Minneapolis in 2003, pressure was put on the wider Anglican Communion to censure the American Episcopal Church. In 2004 "The Windsor Report" was published. In 2005 the Episcopal Church presented its response to the Windsor Report -- "To Set Our Hope on Christ" -- at the Nottingham meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council.

The 2006 General Convention was consumed by responding the Windsor Report and whether or not American bishops would be invited to the 2008 Lambeth Conference -- the every 10 year gathering of Anglican bishops.

After nine day of legislation, a series of "response to Windsor" resolutions were passed:

(A159) Affirm Commitment to the Anglican Communion
(A160) Express Regret for Straining the Bonds of the Church
(A165) Commend the Windsor Report and Commit to the "Windsor Process"
(A166) Support Development of an Anglican Covenant

In addition, General Convention voted to:

(A167) Reaffirm Church Membership of Gay and Lesbian Persons
(A095) Reaffirm Support of Gay and Lesbian Persons
(D005) Oppose Criminalization of Homosexuality

Resolutions submitted insisting on "compliance" with aspects of the Windsor Report that recommended moratorium on the blessing of unions or discrimination against partnered gay or lesbian candidates for bishop were rejected.

On the 10th and last legislative day, an unprecedented joint session of the Houses of Bishops & Deputies was presented with Resolution B033 by then Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. The resolution that passed both houses was entitled "Exercise Restraint in Consecrating Candidates" and read:

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report's invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.

(Ironically, this was also the General Convention that elected the first woman as Presiding Bishop -- an event that most certainly led "to further strains on communion" in-and-of-itself.)

In December 2006 the Diocese of Los Angeles passed a resolution voicing "protest and disagreement with Resolution B033" and called upon "the Bishops and Standing Committee of this Diocese to uphold canon law in both letter and spirit when considering consents to the consecrations of new bishops."

In 2008 the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops was held in Canterbury. The Bishop of New Hampshire was not invited to attend. Also in 2008, the California Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in favor of marriage equality and the Proposition 8 campaign sought to overturn that decision through the initiative process. A095 had already put the Episcopal Church on record opposing "any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriage or civil unions" and all six California Episcopal Bishops with jurisdiction came out together in opposition to Prop 8.

2009 [Anaheim]
Two primary goals were set out for this General Convention by LGBT activists: moving beyond B033 and forward on the blessing of same sex unions. Both were accomplished by:

(C056) Liturgies for Blessings (calling for the collection and development of liturgical and theological resources for the blessing of same-sex realtionships) and
(D025) Commitment and Witness to Anglican Communion (ending the defacto moratoria on election of gay or lesbian bishops)

2012 [Indianapolis]
A number of LGBT related resolutions were adopted by the 77th General Convention meeting in Indianapolis in July of 2012. They included:
A049 Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships
A050 Create Task Force on the Study of Marriage
D018 End Discrimination Against Same-Sex Marriages
D002 Affirming Access to the Ordination Process (ending discrimination against transgender ordination)
D019 Adding Gender Identity and Gender Expression to Non-Discrmination Canons

In February 2013:
Over two dozen Episcopal Bishops signed amici ("friend of the court") briefs on the two marriage equality cases being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Details here.
And the "Task Force on the Study of Marriage" called for by Resolution A050 was convened and charged with reporting back to the 2015 General Convention (to be held in Salt Lake City.) Details here.