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Associated Press/Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

Consent and approval

Religion | The Episcopal Church moves one step closer to consecrating its first lesbian bishop

An openly homosexual candidate for bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles of the U.S. Episcopal Church has received the final necessary approval, and in May she will be consecrated as the first openly lesbian bishop in The Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool of Baltimore was elected in December 2009, but she needed to obtain consent from a majority of bishops and diocesan standing committees.

Glasspool will become the first openly lesbian bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion if she is installed as scheduled on May 15.

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After the openly homosexual Gene Robinson was installed as the bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, bodies of the worldwide Anglican Communion warned The Episcopal Church not to repeat the action. The church observed a moratorium on consecration of non-celibate homosexual bishops for a time but lifted the suspension at last year's General Convention.

"Glasspool's election is unfortunate because she has unapologetically taken sexual expression outside of the God-ordained boundary of Holy Matrimony." Said Jeff Walton, director of the Institute for Religion and Democracy's Anglican Action Program. "In the view of the wider Anglican Communion, this practice makes her unqualified to serve in the role of a bishop."

Walton pointed out that Glasspool's election was further evidence of the liberalization of The Episcopal Church: "The denomination made clear that it was going to proceed on this route, despite protests from other Anglicans. Consent to Glasspool's election by The Episcopal Church shows how little the U.S.-based denomination cares about what other parts of the global Anglican Communion believe.

"The majority of The Episcopal Church is increasingly practicing a separate faith than what most worldwide Anglicans practice," Walton continued. "Glasspool's election and consecration comes at the same time as The Episcopal Church reports steep declines in attendance. Interestingly, the traditionalist Anglican Church in North America has added 100 new congregations since July."

The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) said the actions of The Episcopal Church are distorting the Gospel message.

"The leadership of The Episcopal Church continues to demonstrate its disregard for the authority of Scripture," said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns. "This action does not merely defy those within the wider Anglican Communion, it also contradicts basic Christian theology on marriage and human sexuality by promoting a pattern of life which is contrary to Scripture. Furthermore, the actions of The Episcopal Church are sanctifying sin and distorting the truth of the Gospel.

"The good news of Jesus is about God's radical inclusion that profoundly transforms every aspect of our being," Minns continued. "This is the gospel for which Christians around the world are giving their lives in the face of ongoing persecution. CANA and the Anglican Church in North America will continue to stand firm for the truth of the Word of God and the historic teachings of the church and continue to provide a gracious welcome for all God's people."

The Convocation of Anglicans in North America is an association of orthodox Anglican congregations in the United States and Canada that is a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a community of 77 million people. CANA was originally established in 2005 to provide a means by which Anglicans living in the United States who were alienated by the actions and decisions of The Episcopal Church could continue to live out their faith without compromising their core convictions. Created as a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria, about a dozen of the congregations are primarily expatriate Nigerians. CANA is a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America, an Anglican province that includes about 700 congregations.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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