L.A. Episcopal diocese elects Rev Canon Mary Glasspool as bishop suffragan

The six-county Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has elected the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, canon to the bishops of the Baltimore-based Diocese of Maryland, to the office of bishop suffragan, in which she is called to assist Bishop Diocesan J. Jon Bruno in ministry to the region’s 70,000 parishioners.

Glasspool, 55, was elected Dec.5 on the seventh ballot taken by some 800 clergy and lay delegates to the 114th Annual Meeting of Diocesan Convention, gathered in Riverside, Calif., as the diocese’s chief legislative body.

The Convention on Dec. 4 also elected the Rev. Canon Diane Bruce to the office of bishop suffragan. Glasspool and Bruce were part of a slate of six candidates nominated by a 24-member diocesan committee.

The second woman to be elected a bishop in the diocese’s 114-year history, Glasspool is also the first openly partnered lesbian to be elected a bishop in the Episcopal Church, which includes some 2.4 million members in 109 dioceses in 16 nations. She is the 17th woman to be elected a bishop in the Episcopal Church; its House of Bishops includes some 300 active and retired members.

Glasspool received 153 votes in the clergy order and 203 lay votes, meeting the required majority of ballots after the Convention’s necessary quorum was declared.

Consent to the election of Glasspool and Bruce by the bishops and standing committees of the Episcopal Church’s other 108 dioceses will now be requested under longstanding denominational procedures in keeping with their elections as bishops not only for the local diocese but also for the whole church.

Consents must be received prior to the bishops-elect scheduled ordination to the episcopate, set for May 15, 2010, at which the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop, the Most. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, is slated to officiate.

“I am very excited about the future of the whole Episcopal Church, and I see the Diocese of Los Angeles leading the way into that future, said Glasspool, a native of Staten Island, N.Y., who has been ordained a priest for 27 years, and whose father was also an Episcopal priest.

“But just for this moment, let me say again, thank you, and thanks be to our loving, surprising God. I look forward, in the coming months, to getting to know you all better, as together we build up the Body of Christ for the world.”

Bruno said Glasspool brings years of valuable experience to her new role, noting that she has been essentially fulfilling the duties of a suffragan in her role as canon to Maryland’s bishops since 2001.

He said he is looking forward to working with Glasspool because of “her congeniality and willingness to work together to bring us to a place of abundance.

“She’s not afraid of conflict and she is a reconciler,” Bruno said. He added that Glasspool and her partner of 19 years, Becki Sander, are an example of loving service and ministry. “I will pray that Mary and I and Diane will be as strong a team as Chester and Sergio and I have been. I know Mary will be an asset to this diocese,” he said.

A resident of Annapolis, Glasspool has been canon to Maryland’s bishops since 2001. Previously she was rector of St. Margaret’s, Annapolis (1992-2001); rector of St. Luke’s and St. Margaret’s, Boston (1984-1992); and assistant to the rector of St. Paul’s, Philadelphia.

Ordained a priest in 1982 in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, she holds a master of divinity degree from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., and a bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. She was in 2006 Merrill Fellow at Harvard Divinity School.

Glasspool’s life partner, Sander, holds a doctorate in social work.

In response to a reporter’s question about whether Glasspool might not receive the necessary consents from other dioceses, Bruno said: “That would be a violation of the canons of this church. At our last General Convention, we said we are nondiscriminatory.

“They just as well might have withheld consent from me because I was a divorced man and in my case, it would have been more justified than in withholding them from someone who has been approved through all levels of ministry and is a good and creative minister of the Gospel.”

He acknowledged rumors of a “concerted effort not to give consent” to Glasspool because she is openly gay.” I would remind the Episcopal church and the House of Bishops they need to be conscientious about respecting the canons of the church and the baptismal covenant to respect the dignity of every human being.

“To not consent in this country out of fear of the reaction elsewhere in the Anglican Communion is to capitulate to titular heads.”

The Diocese has voted from a slate of well qualified candidates whose talents fit well with the episcopal team approach of Bishop Bruno, said the Rev. Julian Bull, chair of the search and nominating committee, and head of Campbell Hall Episcopal school in North Hollywood, Calif.

In addition to Bruce, other nominees were the Rev. Zelda Kennedy, senior associate for pastoral care at All Saints Church in Pasadena, Calif.; the Rev. John Kirkley, rector of St. John the Evangelist Church in San Francisco; the Rev. Silvestre Romero, rector of St. Philip’s Church in San Jose, Calif., and the Rev. I. Martir Vasquez, vicar of St. George’s Church in Hawthorne, Calif.

In the second election, Kirkley withdrew on the third ballot and Romero on the fourth.

According to Convention rules of order, ballot results in Glasspool’s election were separate from the election balloting in Bruce’s election, according to Canon M. Janet Wylie, secretary of Convention.

The ballot results were posted in real time on the diocesan web site, http://www.ladiocese.org.

Glasspool is the eighth bishop suffragan to be elected in the history of the Diocese of Los Angeles. She and Bishop-elect Bruce together will succeed the Rt. Rev. Chester L. Talton, 68, who plans to retire in May 2010 after serving as bishop suffragan since January 1991.

Also retiring in 2010 is the Rt. Rev. Sergio Carranza, bishop assistant in the Diocese of Los Angeles since 2002 following his retirement as bishop of the Diocese of Mexico in the Anglican Church of Mexico.

Previous bishops suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles are the late Robert B. Gooden (1930-1947), Donald J. Campbell (1949-1959), Ivol I. Curtis (1960-1964), Robert C. Rusack (1964-1973), and Oliver B. Garver Jr. (1985-1990).

The Diocese of Los Angeles was formed in 1895 by General Convention action to divide the San Francisco-based Diocese of California. The Diocese of Los Angeles today includes 147 congregations located in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, and part of Riverside counties. The diocese is based in L.A.’s Echo Park district at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul, a congregation dating from 1864.

The term suffragan is said to come from the Latin suffragari, which has been translated “to support with one’s vote.” Under Episcopal Church polity, bishops suffragan are elected to assist bishops diocesan without right of succession.

— Robert Williams serves the Diocese of Los Angeles as canon for community relations.

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