Not even two weeks have gone by since Episcopalians voted at their most recent gathering in Anaheim to allow dioceses to consecrate gay bishops than have two dioceses: Minnesota and Los Angeles, risen to the challenge. Three candidates for the episcopate are now out there, one of them a female cleric from Annapolis.
The race is now on to see who’ll be the second diocese to get a top leader who’s gay. Numero Uno was New Hampshire which in 2003 elected V. Gene Robinson as its bishop and set off the ongoing breakup of the 77-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, the world’s third largest Christian body after the Catholics and the Orthodox. It is a fair guess to say the election of more gay bishops isn’t going to patch things up.
The first election involves Rev. Bonnie Perry, rector of All Saints Church in Chicago, is up for bishop of Minnesota in an election slated for Oct. 30-31. You may have last heard of her when she was on the 2006 slate for Episcopal bishop of California. As one of three gay candidates, she didn’t do particularly well there - in fact, she withdrew early - and was beat out by Mark Andrus, then suffragan bishop of Alabama. Now she’s one of three candidates in Minnesota but she’s up against some stiff competition. Her partner is also a female clergywoman.
I’m guessing that a homosexual candidate will have a better shot two months later when the Diocese of Los Angeles elects two suffragan bishops on Dec. 4-5. A local woman, Canon Mary Glasspool, an Annapolis resident, is up for that one and if you believe the blogs, she’s got a good chance. The daughter of an Episcopal priest, she was rector at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis for more than nine years and she’s served on some important committees plus been a General Convention deputy.
PHOTO: Canon Mary Glasspool
Now, she’s only one of six candidates and she’s up against three local nominees (including a second gay candidate, San Francisco priest John Kirkley) but again, there are two positions open so her chances aren’t bad. Her bio says she’s had a female partner since 1988 but came to grips with her sexuality in the 1970s during college. She left St. Margaret’s in 2001 to take on a job as a canon on staff for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. In a statement included in her bio, she says she’s restless for something new and insofar as to the possibility of her getting elected, “it’s time,” she wrote. “It’s time for our wonderful church to move on and be the inclusive Church we say we are.”
Even if neither of these two elections produces a gay bishop, it’s a safe bet to say that within the year, there’ll be one that will.
- Julia Duin, religion editor