The Episcopal Church continues moving into the future. The Los Angeles Times reports an openly-gay cleric has been tapped as the next Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles:

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.

The Rev Glasspool would be the second gay cleric elevated to Episcopal bishop since V. Gene Robinson was selected in 2003 and became Bishop of New Hampshire in 2004. That had caused a rift in the church:

Robinson’s election threw the Episcopal Church and the global Anglican Communion into an uproar, leading to decisions by some conservative parishes and dioceses to leave the national church and resulting in a de facto ban on the election of additional gay bishops. …

In the U.S. some Episcopal parishes, including four Los Angeles parishes, and several dioceses bolted from the national church and aligned themselves with conservative Anglican bishops in Africa and South America.

After some more seesawing over the issue, this appears to be the next “test” of whether or not the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Union of which it’s a part, can stay together. The consequences of this elevation haven’t gone unnoticed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican Union, as the (UK) Telegraph reports:

Dr Rowan Williams warned Episcopal Church leaders that they risk breaking “our bonds of mutual affection” if they ordain the openly gay reverend as an assistant bishop. …

Responding quickly to the Episcopal diocese of Los Angeles’s election of the Rev Canon Glasspool, Dr Rowan Williams said it raised “very serious questions” for the divided church.

He reminded Episcopal leaders that they had agreed there should be a “period of gracious respect” over such controversial appointments.

The agreement Williams alluded to had been reached in 2006, but earlier this year, it was lifted. Glasspool’s election — if it comes to pass (and it’s not guaranteed yet that it will) — very well could cause serious problems for the Anglican Union and its member churches. As I blogged already, it’s arguable that an Anglican schism is already underway in the US, and this won’t make reconciliation any easier.

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