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.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Life and Style
i100

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

Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Analyst – 2 year fixed term contract – Kent – Circa £55k

£45000 - £55000 Per Annum 31 days holiday, pension, healthcare, annual bonus: ...

**SEN Primary Teacher Serf Unit **

£110 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experie...

Experienced Foundation Teacher

£100 - £222 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting f...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week