Lesbian bishop sparks new church row

Archbishop warns election of Mary Glasspool could divide Anglicanism in two

The Episcopal Church in the US has elected its first openly lesbian woman to serve as a bishop in the diocese of Los Angeles, instantly sparking fresh tumult in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, warned that the Church would now face "very serious questions" over the decision, which will see Canon Mary Glasspool, 55, elevated to serve as an assistant bishop. Canon Glasspool, who has openly been in a relationship with her female partner, Becki Sander, for 21 years, was chosen at the Church's annual convention in Los Angeles.

"I am very excited about the future of the whole Episcopal Church, and I see the Diocese of Los Angeles leading the way into that future," the new bishop said after the votes were counted. She added: "Any group of people who have been oppressed because of any one, isolated aspect of their persons yearns for justice and equal rights."

On Friday, the Church also chose another woman, Canon Diane Jardine Bruce, 53, to serve as bishop. It is the first time in the 114 years of the Los Angeles diocese that women have been elected as bishops. But it was the selection of the Rev Glasspool, the daughter of a pastor and a native of Staten Island, New York, that gripped the convention and which is already reawakening some of the bitterness that followed the election six years ago of Gene Robinson, who is also gay, as a bishop in New Hampshire.

While many in the American Episcopalian Church, which belongs to the wider Anglican Church and therefore has direct links to Canterbury, believe they are simply leading the way to waking the Communion up to the presence of gays and lesbians in their midst, the issue remains deeply divisive.

After the election of Bishop Robinson, a small number of conservative congregations in America broke away. The Archbishop of Canterbury continues to resist the ordination of gay and lesbian church members and had asked the Episcopalians in the US to respect a moratorium on gay ordinations. Yesterday, noting that the decision had still to be confirmed by a majority of US Episcopal Church heads, he reminded American church leaders that they had "collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary".

He has also alluded to the possibility of a two-tier worldwide church if the US branch demurs.

"I can't imagine anything that would be more abhorrent to Jesus than a two-tier church," Bishop Robinson recently said, rebuking Dr Williams. "Either we are children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ, or we aren't. There are not preferred children and second-class children. There are just children of God."

News of the elevation of Canon Glasspool brought expressions of dismay from conservative leaders of the Church of England. "I feel deeply ashamed that this is happening in the Anglican Church," declared the Rev Rod Thomas, a member of the Synod and leader of the conservative evangelical group Reform. "I think a schism is absolutely inevitable."

But Giles Fraser, a liberal voice in the Church and Canon of St Paul's Cathedral, celebrated the news. "This is another nail in the coffin of Christian homophobia," he said.

The life of Mary Glasspool

*Canon Glasspool, 55, comes from Staten Island, New York. Her father was an Episcopal priest. She was ordained in 1982 in the Diocese of Pennsylvania and has been a canon in the Diocese of Maryland for eight years.

*She realised she was gay in the 1970s at college. "Did God hate me?" she asked.

*Her "life partner" Becki Sander, who she has been with for 21 years, has a doctorate in social work and demonstrates a "loving service and ministry", according to the Bishop of Los Angeles, J Jon Bruno.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn