The Episcopal Church has confirmed the election of an Annapolis priest as the first openly lesbian bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool, who has served in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland since 1992, said Wednesday that she was "overjoyed and overwhelmed" by news that a majority of bishops and diocesan committees had approved her election as assistant bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles.
"And grateful," she added. "I'm grateful to so many people, and to God."
When she is consecrated in May, Glasspool will become the first openly gay bishop in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion since the 2003 election of V. Gene Robinson in New Hampshire brought a decades-long divide over homosexuality within the church out into the open.
Glasspool, 56, said she knows "not everyone rejoices" in her election, and pledged to "work, pray, and continue to extend my own hands and heart to bridge those gaps, and strengthen the bonds of affection among all people, in the name of Jesus Christ."
Her confirmation is likely to further strain relations in a church that has lost members, parishes and dioceses over differences on homosexuality. One prominent traditionalist said he was "saddened but not surprised" by her confirmation.
"It is contrary to the teaching of Holy Scripture and the mind of the church catholic," said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina. "One would have hoped that at least the bishops would have waited until they were gathered at their coming House of Bishops meeting to discern prayerfully their response together. They instead sought to embrace a way of life which the church through the Bible has always understood to be forbidden."
Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles has supported Glasspool, who was elected with the Rev. Diane Jardine Bruce in December. They are the first female bishops in the Diocese of Los Angeles.
"I give thanks for this," said Bruno, adding that he was grateful that the bishops and the diocesan committees had "demonstrated through their consents that the Episcopal Church, by canon, creates no barrier for ministry on the basis of gender and sexual orientation."
Glasspool has served as canon, or adviser, to the Maryland bishops since 2001. She was rector of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Annapolis from 1992 to 2001.