Anglican objections have no bearing on Rev. Glasspool

December 17, 2009

Matthew Hay Brown's fine article about the election of my colleague, the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, as a bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles ("Annapolis cleric's election is making waves and history," Dec. 9) adds to the joy felt by those of us those in Maryland who have been graced by her ministries since 1992. She will take office when approved by a majority of the other dioceses and consecrated by our presiding bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori. Our loss is California's gain.

It is unfortunate that one element of her story has been made an object of controversy. She would not be the first woman, nor the first bishop living in a committed same-sex relationship, to be elected, but some Episcopalians in this country and many Anglicans elsewhere oppose her election.

There is no question of the canonical procedures having been observed in Los Angeles; it followed the constitution of our church as adopted in 1789. What many people do not know, and others choose to ignore, is the legal independence of the Episcopal Church from other jurisdictions. In fact, it was in Chestertown, Md., in 1780 that a convention of clergy and laymen began the process of making an American church separate from the Church of England, in the spirit of our declaration of political independence of 1776.

After that, the archbishop of Canterbury had no more legal jurisdiction in this nation than King George III, the "supreme governor" of the Church of England. So when Archbishop Rowan Williams says he regrets Canon Glasspool's election and urges the American church to reject her, he does not speak in any official capacity.

"The Anglican Communion" exists as a fellowship of very diverse national churches with a common English reformed catholic heritage. We join for conversations and consultations in "mutual responsibility and interdependence" as a community of faith in Jesus Christ rather than as members of a corporation. The Rev. Kingsley Smith, Towson

The writer is a retired priest who has been serving in the Diocese of Maryland since 1956.

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