After years of warnings from Anglican leaders, the recent election of a lesbian bishop poses a stark question for the Episcopal Church: Does it want to continue to be a full member in the global Anglican Communion or go its own way?
In coming months, more than 100 Episcopal dioceses and bishops will answer that query by confirming or rejecting the election of the Rev. Mary Glasspool as suffragan (assistant) bishop of Los Angeles.
Glasspool, 55, has been with her partner since 1988, according to a biography she provided to the Diocese of Los Angeles; she is poised to become the second openly gay bishop elected in the 2.1 million-member Episcopal Church.
But a majority of bishops and standing committees in the Episcopal Church's 110 dioceses must vote to give their “consents,” or confirmation to Glasspool's election before she can be consecrated a bishop. Because that process involves the breadth of the church, it is likely to be an accurate reflection of Episcopalians' willingness to defy, or heed international pressure.
Within the U.S., the confirmation process has become more politicized in recent years, with Web sites fostering online campaigns against candidates. Two elections have been nullified in the last two years, though one of the bishops was later re-elected.
The spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Rowan Williams, strongly warned Episcopalians that confirming Glasspool “will have very important implications.” Glasspool's election “raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion but for the communion as a whole,” Williams said.
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