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Episcopal church ordains its 2nd openly gay bishop

Monday May 17, 2010
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The Episcopal Church has consecrated a woman as its second openly gay bishop, seven years after stirring lingering controversy by ordaining a man to a similar post.

The Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, of Baltimore, was ordained and consecrated on Saturday. It also makes her one of the first two female bishops in the Diocese of Los Angeles’ 114-year history.

She was installed at Long Beach Arena before 3,000 people, who burst into applause at the end, church spokesman Bob Williams said.

Just before the ceremony began, a man stood, shouted about the need to repent and held up a sign that read "Do not be deceived, homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God."

After he was escorted out, a young boy in the same section rose holding a Bible and shouted similar slogans. Security guards also led him out.

The Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce, of San Clemente, Calif., was also ordained Saturday.

The two women were elected last December to serve as assistant bishops in the diocese’s six-county territory but conservative Episcopalians had urged the church not to ordain Glasspool. The decision to do so highlights a continued Episcopal commitment to accepting same-sex relationships despite enormous pressure from other Anglicans.

Bishop Jon Bruno, who gave a sermon at the ceremony, said he once opposed ordaining women, but now would be happily serving alongside two.

Bruno defended the church’s inclusive policies.

"The world’s transformed only if we turn to each and every one of our brothers and sisters and see the face of Christ superimposed on them," he told the audience. "The ones we disagree with most are the ones we’re obligated to share our lives and teach the most."

The Episcopal Church, which is the Anglican body in the United States, caused turmoil in the church in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

Breakaway Episcopal conservatives have formed a rival church, the Anglican Church in North America.

Several overseas Anglicans have been pressuring Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans, to officially recognize the new conservative entity.

In 2004, Anglican leaders asked the Episcopal Church for a moratorium on electing another gay bishop while they tried to prevent a permanent break in the fellowship.

Since the request was made, some Episcopal gay priests have been nominated for bishop, but none was elected before Glasspool. In July 2009, the Episcopal General Convention, the U.S. church’s top policy making body, affirmed that gay and lesbian priests were eligible to become bishops.

Glasspool and Bruce, who leaves her post as pastor of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in San Clemente, will also be the 16th and 17th women to be elected bishops since the first, Barbara Harris, was selected for such a post in Massachusetts in 1988.

Harris was one of seven bishops who helped consecrate Glasspool at Saturday’s ceremony.

Glasspool, 56, an adviser, or canon, for eight years to the Diocese of Maryland’s bishop, said in an essay on the Los Angeles diocese Web site that she had an "intense struggle" while in college with her sexuality and the call to become a priest.

She did not speak Saturday, but told a gathering of media Friday that the church’s willingness to ordain women and gays shows a commitment that goes beyond mere inclusive language.

"We are being the church we say we are," Glasspool said. "We’re not just saying it, we’re doing it and there’s something very powerful about that."

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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