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Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles elects openly gay bishop

Episcopal_bishop_ku7ctsnc_2  The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles today elected the first openly gay bishop since the national church lifted a ban that sought to bar gays and lesbians from the church's highest ordained ministry.

Clergy and lay leaders, meeting in Riverside for their annual convention, elected the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, 55, who has been in a committed relationship with another woman since 1988. Another gay candidate, the Rev. John L. Kirkley of San Francisco, withdrew late Friday.

Glasspool’s election to fill one of two openings for bishops of the diocese followed the selection Friday of the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce, 53, the rector of a San Clemente church. The two became the first women elected as bishops of the diocese in its 114-year history.

But it was the endorsement of Glasspool that riveted much of the convention as well as the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch. Glasspool is the first openly gay priest to be elected bishop since the ordination of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003.

Robinson's election threw the Episcopal Church and the global Anglican Communion into an uproar, leading to decisions by some conservative parishes and dioceses to leave the national church and resulting in a de facto ban on the election of additional gay bishops.

For a time, the Episcopal Church sought to discourage the elevation of gay and lesbian priests as bishops in hopes that strains in the 70-million-member Anglican Communion would be reduced. But the move failed to stem growing disenchantment by conservatives alarmed by the ordination of gays and lesbians, and what they saw as liberal interpretations of the Bible.

In the U.S. some Episcopal parishes, including four Los Angeles parishes, and several dioceses bolted from the national church and aligned themselves with conservative Anglican bishops in Africa and South America. So great were the possibilities of schism that the archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, implored the American church to go no farther.

But in July, the Episcopal Church reversed course at its national convention in Anaheim, voting to open the top echelons of the church to gays and lesbians. The Los Angeles diocese is the first to test that policy.

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.

"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."

Home to 70,000 Episcopalians across six counties, the diocese is widely viewed as one of the most liberal in the U.S. church of 2.1 million members. Its bishop, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, is an outspoken advocate for the rights of gays in the church.

Glasspool and Bruce were elected to fill two openings for the position of suffragan bishop, who assist a diocese's primary bishop. The two women must be confirmed by a majority of the national church's bishops and of diocesan standing committees, which include clergy and lay representatives.

Besides Kirkley, Glasspool and Bruce, the candidates included the Rev. Zelda M. Kennedy of All Saints in Pasadena; the Rev. Irineo Martir Vasquez of St. George's in Hawthorne; and the Rev. Silvestre E. Romero of St. Philip's in San Jose.

Vasquez presented a particularly strong challenge to Glasspool; he finished with the second highest vote count and on several of the day's early ballots, he received a majority from lay delegates, while she had a majority of the clergy.

-- Larry Stammer in Riverside

Photo: Los Angeles diocesan Bishop Jon Bruno, center, with Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce, left, and Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool share a light moment after their election as "suffragan" bishops. Glasspool was elected as the first openly gay bishop since the national church lifted a ban that sought to bar gays and lesbians from the church's highest ordained ministry. Photo credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (76)

What could possibly go wrong?

Two women bishops. The Episcopal Church is now the National Organization of Women in ecclesiastical drag. Too bad the pews aren't as crowded as the number of bishops in a church with such declining numbers. The Diocese of Los Angeles has less than 70,000 members - with 20,000 attending every Sunday at the most. The big problem will be paying for all this politically correct publicity! Few people in the pews have the big money that use to make the Episcopal Church the Republican Party at prayer. I stopped going because aesthetically women at the altar just don't work for me. Their high heels click too much! And let's make these churches pay taxes for this folly. Why should we taxpayers foot the fill. And all of organized religion should be taxes - from neurotic evangelicals to left wing liberals. All!

Nothing works better here than your sexual orientation to advance your career.

Ah well, the more they (the Episcopal's) want to be modern and the like the more they will fail. There's a reason that the Bible has endured and that those who try their best to follow its teachings endure, while those who try to adapt it are doomed to failure and the dust heap of history. Oh, the reason, well, it's "Don't try to outthink or reinterpret God, just take him at His word."

Unless the Episcopalians remember this they're just going to drive more people away, and themselves into irrelevance.

Nothing says praise Jesus like a bunch of bigots that spend more time spouting off how morally superior they are to others... man if only we had a women, gay, and minority hating religous group to participate in... ahhh someday ;)

Congratulations to Rev. Glasspool and the Episcopal church. Your stand for American equality, liberty and justice in a country full of hate and bigotry based on religion, make the Episcopal Church stand out from the crowd.

Being a white,male,heterosexual,and a member of of the LA Diocese, I will start looking for a new church home. It seems the Diocese of LA has become so earthly minded that it is no heavenly good.

why even have a church anymore? its a joke. its all about a PC message. most people dont even want to be married anyway or if they are they dont take it seriously. yeah, none of this should be tax exempt anymore and there should not be anymore tax breaks for married people anymore, it was another time when that stuff mean something. the state needs the money let them get it from these churches were anything goes, they are just another social club that's all.

It appears that the Episcopal Church is capable of evaluating a person based on their qualifications, not their gender or sexual orientation. What a concept!

It would be nice if the rest of the country (and world), were capable of following that principle. Straight white men have benefited from "affirmative action" for far too long. It's about time they were forced to compete on the merits of their qualifications, rather than the color of their skin or who they have sex with.

I have never been prouder to call myself an Episcopalian than right now. I am proud of my diocese and it's voting members. Thanks be to God!

Soon we will have a newer new testament. Or maybe the last supper will change. Maybe the sea never parted. Maybe all the hoopla over how someone lives there lives is just that, hoopla.
The point is there is not a single person that died and came back telling how it was being dead. I mean dead like furnel and the dirt. None of the I was dead in the hospital for one hour. I mean gone. Weeks or months gone.
So why can't she live her life as she wants. There is no harm to the public or the government. I am sure she wants the best for everyone. She is not taking the public's money for bonus pay on wall street. She is not sending our kids to fight a war for whatever the cause we don't know. She is in love like anyone eles. Why not allow her to live as full a life as possible. I am not a follower of religion but I do think we all deserve to be happy.

Once again the ECUSA has taken a step towards a complete break with the Anglican Communion. For them to still call themselves a Christian denomination is laughable!

What the Episcopal Church stands for (not the members) are a lot of over paid clergy who do nothing all week except a single act on Sunday to declining membership. Tax all of these religious institutions.

This wait until we approve your comment is why I don't read the los angeles times. The journel never put it's readers through this crap.

It looks like American Episcopalians are going the route of inclusion, instead of the 3rd-world route where being gay can be the death penalty. Not sure why a civilized American would want to follow the 3rd world route.

It's about time.

I cannot believe this. The church has fallen into the trap of Non-believers. Jesus has made this clear that homosexuals and adulterers will not inherit the Kingdom of God. These people will be judge for their disbelief and disobedience to the word of God. Let the judgement start in the house of God. Another sad day in the religious community.

Oh, boy.

Look, I can understand and to some extent sympathize with the gay rights movement from a LEGAL AND POLITICAL standpoint, but in the CHURCH?!

Forget it.

I would actually support civil unions for gays, as we live in a secular country, but to have clergy openly live in a lifestyle that is against the teachings of the Bible is HERESY.

Oh, Drew and Pasadena Jag and Affirmative Action, it must be so hard for you to get accustomed to the fact that straight white men don't rule the world quite as effortlessly as they used to!

Pasadena Jag, I'm not going to take the bait of your flamboyant misogyny, but I will point out that one of the churches clinging to the traditional values you seem to embrace is the Catholic church, which is bleeding members far more rapidly than the Episcopal church, so perhaps your logic ("refuse to evolve or perish!") needs re-examination.

Drew, "just take [God] at his word"? So you're in favor of a return to stoning adulterers, marrying multiple wives, and banning blended fabrics? I'm guessing that you, like most believers, are fine with adapting the Bible to suit your modern lifestyle and convenience; why can't you do the same in the name of equality?

Why anyone gay wants to be a part of Christianity or any of the other sham groups interfering with your rights and sex - is beyond the pale. Remember - these men and women, in dog collars - from the Roman Catholics to Episcopalians to Baptists are mainly the same. Sitting around all week giving advice and then performing some idiotic ritual on Sunday. THIS ENTIRE ORGANIZED RELIGION SHAM SHOULD BE TAXED!

just more proof that the episcopal church is a joke.

YEA!----inch by inch, we will WIN!

"Newly elected gay Episcopal bishop: Excited about church's future."
Hah-hah-hah! She's hallucinating, the Episcopalian Church has no future whatsoever - the Los Angeles diocese will be reduced ar type of Tony Alamo or other sexual sect in a few years.
Boy - how do liberals run aground any ship they manage to wrest control of! Education, art, religion, military, science - it's a reverse Midas touch. Everything they touch becomes turd - and for this, as visual aid, the statues at the new LAPD center.

This is so positive ! This is a happy day for the Episcopal Church and all of us!

That did it! I no longer belong to the Episcopal church. This is a sick, screwed up world. They will no longer get my money. Good luck with God. C.B.

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