Bil Browning

Episcopals nominate lesbian priest for bishop

Filed By Bil Browning | August 30, 2007 5:39 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Anglican Church, coming out of the closet, Episcopalians, lesbian, marriage

As you watch the various denominations in Protestantism wrestle with the issue of LGBT people, it's always fascinating to me to watch the different ways they approach the subject. Baptists or Pentecostals, for example, tend to the "not welcoming" side of the street; they don't want LGBT people to attend their churches most of the time. Others, like the Presbyterians and Methodists have chosen a middle-of-the-road position and slowly inch their way towards full equality and participation; they allow LGBT ministers (as long as they're celibate!) but don't approve of marriage unless there's a penis and vagina involved. (Which I've always found amusing since they force the LGBT preachers to be celibate "the same as unmarried heterosexuals." But then they won't allow the gay ministers to actually, you know, get married. Eventually the straight church leaders are allowed to have sex. Gays and lesbians get stuck asking, "Are you sure you're not thinking of Catholics instead of queers?!?")

The Anglican church has probably had it the roughest over the issue. The Anglican Church was started after England's King Henry VIII wanted a no-fault divorce and the Pope wouldn't grant him one. (Stop being Catholic and you can set up your own church and get all the divorces you want - marriages too! Seriously. Look it up. There's precedent. Henry made himself the head of the new church and moved Anne Boleyn into the castle.) The Anglican Church was one of those evangelical churches before evangelical was cool; they actually sent missionaries to Africa without having to force locals to mine diamonds in exchange! The African section of the Anglicans is huge - they have the most members since church going has dropped off in Europe and the US. And the Africans are not gay friendly.

ThouShallNotSteal-Tracey-LindsPicture.jpgAnd then there's the Episcopal Church of America. That's Anglican for "Our US branch." Over here, the Episcopals tend to the progressive side of large organized religion. They ordained an openly gay bishop a few years ago and the church has been slowly splitting apart since. Their fellow Anglicans are demanding that they stop consecrating LGBT bishops and threatening to throw the Episcopals out of the Anglican church if they don't pledge to stop by September 30th. The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago has apparently answered early. They nominated a lesbian for bishop this week.

The Rev. Tracey Lind, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, who has a female partner, will be on the November 10 ballot.

If she wins, she would be the second bishop living with a same-sex partner in the Episcopal Church. New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who has a male partner, was consecrated in 2003, pushing the world Anglican Communion to the brink of schism.
Next month, U.S. Episcopal bishops will meet to decide whether they should agree to Anglican demands that they unequivocally pledge by September 30 not to consecrate another openly gay bishop. If the bishops say no, the church could lose its full membership in the 77 million-member communion.

The other candidates for Chicago bishop are the Rev. Jane Gould, rector of St. Stephen's Memorial Episcopal Church in Lynn, Massachusetts; the Rev. Jeffrey Lee, rector of St. Thomas Church in Medina, Washington; the Rev. Margaret Rose, director of national Episcopal women's ministries; and the Rev. Timothy Safford, rector of Christ Church, Philadelphia.

Isn't it fantastic to see main stream churches standing up for equality? I sympathize with the church over their loss, of course, but I rejoice at their bravery and fortitude.

I wonder at the internal politics though... What's it like to be one of the other folks nominated? Are they thinking "Tracey! Tracey! Tracey! Why'd they have to do this now?!?" or is it more of a "Way to make a statement. Stick it to the man!" or "Yes! She won't get the job because of this and I have a better chance now that one rival is eliminated."? Maybe I distrust organized religion too much sometimes.

Anyone want to take bets on who ends up with the job? I'm betting on Rev Margaret. Anyone who'd have the name Chicago Bishop Margaret Rose is a shoo-in for the job; it doesn't sound more churchy than that...

*Just for the record, I stole Rev Lind's picture from the Trinity Cathedral website. (Hey after betting on the results of a Bishop's election is stealing from a church website really that bad?!?) After I downloaded it I noticed the file name: "ThouShallNotSteal-Tracey-LindsPicture.jpg" Just for the sense of humor, I'll pray she gets the job now.

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