We sat down on Tuesday with the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool, who on Saturday became the first openly lesbian Episcopal priest elected a bishop in the Anglican Communion.
Pending confirmation, the Annapolis woman, who since 1992 has served as a rector and canon (advisor) to the bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, will become bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles. She would be only the second openly gay Anglican bishop in the world, after the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire threw the Protestant denomination into its current state of turmoil.
The election drew a stern rebuke from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan D. Williams, who said her confirmation would jeopardize relations in the 70 million-member church. We've got a story in Wednesday's paper.
Following is a transcript of our conversation, which started with a question about Williams' warning.
With respect to the Archbishop of Canterbury, he has a personal relationship with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, and I leave that in their realm. Certainly, I’m not ignorant of issues in the culture and the church, so yes, I can say I anticipated some kind of reaction. You never know what kind of reaction.
I want to be quick to say that personally, I have received hundreds, maybe a thousand at this point, and one negative e-mail among all of them. I’ve received e-mails from all over the world – from an 18-year-old gay man in Auckland, New Zealand, who said how proud and thrilled he was for the church. Episcopalians in the Diocese of Dallas, which is one of our more conservative dioceses, and a married couple, lay people, who wrote and sent their congratulations. A Lesbian couple who are Roman Catholic in England who said they were having such difficulty in their own church and they were so proud that the Episcopal Church was taking leadership in this way, demonstrating not only the reality of who we already are, but the inclusiveness of Jesus’ love for all people.
On the role in which she now finds herself:
Well, it’s very humbling, because first of all, I mean, here’s one of the bylines that was said to me by one of my mentors in this diocese: ‘Always remember you’re a celebrant and not a celebrity.’ And what that means is I’m a servant of God in Christ. And as a servant, I’m here to serve God’s people. As a bishop, to be a chief shepherd of the people. And I never want to lose that centeredness in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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