I’m sure you’ve heard by now that the Anglican world is all aflutter at the election of the second partnered gay bishop. The Associated Press reported on Saturday that this time it’s a lesbian, the Rev. Mary Glasspool of Maryland, who has been elected as an assistant bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles:
The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles elected a lesbian as assistant bishop Saturday, the second openly gay bishop in the global Anglican fellowship, which is already deeply fractured over the first.
The Rev. Mary Glasspool of Baltimore needs approval from a majority of national church leaders before she can be consecrated as assistant bishop in the Los Angeles diocese.
Still, her victory underscored a continued Episcopal commitment to accepting same-sex relationships despite enormous pressure from other Anglicans to change their stand.
The head of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, has said she would consecrate any elected bishop as long as church rules for selection were followed.
The Episcopal Church, which is the Anglican body in the United States, caused an uproar in 2003 by consecrating the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
That last sentence is the reason that this is a non-story. Once the door was opened with Robinson’s election, there was nothing that was going to close it again. Anglicans of a variety of persuasions on both left and right have weighed in about this over the weekend, and there’s been a lot of discussion on General Convention resolutions, Presiding Bishop statements, various communiques and reports and what this means for them, and so on. It is all essentially meaningless.
The Episcopal Church has been on this trajectory for decades, and nothing–not African disapproval, not Archbishop of Canterbury tut-tutting, not membership or worship attendance decline, not church or even diocese withdrawal–has slowed it down one whit. The Episcopal Church has chosen what it wants to be, which is the United Church of Christ (not just in terms of sexual ethics, but in a wide variety of ways, including theological latitiudinarianism and left-wing political activism) with clergy in fancy dress. I respect the call of those evangelicals who believe they should stay in ECUSA, but I feel sorry for those (if there are still any left) who think that by staying they will influence the denomination toward a more orthodox approach to anything. That ship has left the harbor, and the only thing left for those of us who watch is to bid it farewell.