Yes! I’m sure that this will usher in another rash of defections from the church. Too bad, so sad. Fundie explosion in 3…2…1

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 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.

…”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.”

Rev. Glasspool’s own words, submitted to the diocese for her candidacy:

As a 24-year-old seminarian, I registered to give one of the many three-minute or less witnesses. Shaking in my little pulpit pumps, and in front of at least 1,500 people, I tried to make the point that when we are talking about human sexuality, we’re not talking about issues, we’re talking about people. I ended my “speech” with this: I trust that God’s Love at this Convention will transcend the issues and address the people – all of us – in our wholeness. I trust and I pray that that same love will prevent any of us from condemning others – particularly in this case, homosexuals, in our human, and full, and loving wholeness. After I sat down, my Bishop, Paul Moore, Jr., came over to me, gave me a great big hug, and said: “Now that you’ve come out to 1,500 people, don’t you think it’s about time to tell your parents?!”

It’s 30 years later and I almost feel as though I could give the same speech again. I still have the frayed and yellowed paper upon which I wrote it over a cup of coffee in a local McDonald’s. Almost, but not quite. You see, my essence and my vocation have been interwoven since college, and I’ve learned and grown because of that. I learned about prejudice and oppression not just by engaging with my African-American friends, but also through discovering who I really am, and how these dynamics work, and the cost of silence.

So – of all the worldly issues you all have named, I have been touched and changed the most by issues of gender equity and the status of gay and lesbian people in the church and society. Yet I am not a “single issue” person, and I preach passionately about peace-making, reconciliation, the need to battle the evils of racism, and overcome extreme poverty. I continue to support, and work for the Millennium Development Goals as a comprehensive, world-wide way in which we engage God’s purposes for the world.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding