(Photo: Episcopal News Service / Janet Kawamoto)
The ordination of two women bishops, one of whom is a partnered lesbian, was a moment of celebration for some 3,000 Episcopalians gathered in Long Beach, Calif., on Saturday.
But for many evangelicals and conservatives in the worldwide Anglican Communion, it was a moment of alienation and sorrow.
"We wish to express our support for the many people within The Episcopal Church who feel alienated and hurt by this development," said evangelical members of the Church of Ireland. "Many Christians of all traditions and denominations will share our sorrow and see Mary Glasspool’s consecration as a defiant rejection of pleas for restraint and, even more importantly, as a rejection of the pattern of holiness of life called for in Scripture and endorsed by believers over the centuries.
"The elevation to senior church leadership of a person whose lifestyle is contrary to the will of God revealed in Scripture is both wrong and disappointing."
Glasspool and Diane Jardine Bruce were consecrated as bishops suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. The occasion was deemed as historic as they are the first women bishops to serve in the diocese and as Glasspool is now The Episcopal Church's second openly gay bishop.
"The world's transformed only if we turn to each and every one of our brothers and sisters and see the face of Christ superimposed on them," Los Angeles Bishop the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno said in his sermon Saturday, according to Episcopal News Service. "The ones we disagree with the most are the ones we're obligated to share our lives and teach the most."
Some 30 bishops, including the church body's first openly gay bishop – New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson – attended the service.
The consecration of Glasspool has forced traditionalists in the 77 million-member Anglican Communion to further distance themselves from The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism.
Anglican bishops had called for "gracious restraint" on the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals, after the consecration of Robinson in 2003.
Glasspool, who has been with her lesbian partner since 1988, was elected in December to serve as assistant bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles. She received the required majority of consents from the wider church and the OK from the presiding bishop's office in March.
Acknowledging the disagreements, Glasspool told BBC News on Saturday, "I will seek to reach out and engage with people who ... think differently than I do and try to build a relationship with them."
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, said last month that he is in discussion with a number of people about what consequences should follow. The decision to elect and consecrate Glasspool, he said, "cannot speak for our common mind" and has deepened the divide between The Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican family.
Offering one suggestion, conservative group the Anglican Mainstream said The Episcopal Church should withdraw or be excluded from the global communion's representative bodies.