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Diane Bruce, Mary Glasspool consecrated bishops in joyous celebration in Los Angeles diocese

[Episcopal News Service]  Two historic ministries were welcomed in a huge and joyous celebration May 15 as thousands witnessed Diane Jardine Bruce and Mary Douglas Glasspool being consecrated bishops suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.
During the three-hour service at the Long Beach Arena, themed 'Rejoice!' Bruce and Glasspool were ordained and consecrated the 16th and 17th women bishops in the Episcopal Church. Bruce is the first woman to be elected a bishop in the Los Angeles diocese. Glasspool, elected Dec. 5, a day after Bruce, is the diocese's first—and the Episcopal Church's second—gay, partnered bishop.

Representatives from the Tongva, Chumash, Tataviam and Acjachemem Native American tribes, upon whose lands the Los Angeles diocese is located, welcomed 3,000 clergy and laity, family and friends, and civic, ecumenical and other guests, blessing the gathering, building and the land with smoldering sage incense and songs for the "two beautiful shepherds" at the start of the ceremony.

Los Angeles' rich diversity was represented in song and dance, amid a mosaic of varying races, ethnicities, ages, genders, and sexual orientations -- none of which mattered, said Bishop Jon Bruno, a co-consecrator and homilist, "because we are all people of God."

In a sermon frequently interrupted by applause and laughter, Bruno paid tribute to the historical occasion, recalling how he had once protested women's ordination, and now would be serving with two women bishops.

"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," he said. "The ones we disagree with the most are the ones we're obligated to share our lives and teach the most."

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori served as chief consecrator in the multi-lingual Spanish, Korean, Tagalog and English service. The festivities included seven processions, led by Korean drummers, University of California Riverside bagpipers, and the Taiko Project Drummers. A Gospel procession was led by the Rev. Lester Mackenzie to the steady beat of the djembe, an African drum.

Musical offerings included: Shepherd's Flute, a Chinese American praise band from St. Thomas Church in Hacienda Heights, and a gospel rendition of "All My Trials, Lord," sung by the Rev. Canon Deborah Dunn, rector of St. Peter's Church in Santa Maria, California.

Filipino, Chinese and African American dance groups performed, as did a mariachi band. A 125-voice choir from the diocese's 147 congregations offered musical selections from Nigerian, South African, Italian and other traditions.

About 30 bishops, including the Rt. Rev. Martin DeJesus Barahona of El Salvador and retired Ugandan bishop Christopher Senyonjo, attended the service.

Retired Massachusetts suffragan bishop Barbara Harris, who in 1988 became the first woman bishop in the Episcopal Church and worldwide Anglican Communion, served as one of seven co-consecrating bishops. She received sustained applause and a standing ovation when Bruno paid tribute to her in his sermon.

"It's a joy to participate in her consecration," Harris later said of Glasspool, who in 1988 nominated Harris for bishop. "We're great friends. Little did either of us know that both of us would be sitting in the House of Bishops."

"She is going to make a very good bishop," Harris added. "She's a wonderful, caring, loving, pastoral person."

New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, who in 2003 became the first openly gay, partnered bishop in the Episcopal Church, was among the bishops attending the service.

Other co-consecrating bishops included retired Los Angeles bishop Frederick H. Borsch; Lawrence Provenzano of Long Island; and Ohio bishop Mark Hollingsworth Jr. Three bishops from Maryland, where Glasspool has served as canon to the bishops for the past eight years, also participated: Bishop Diocesan Eugene Sutton, Bishop Suffragan John Rabb and Bishop Robert Ilhoff, retired diocesan, all of Maryland.

Other guests included President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson and Bishops Dean Nelson of the Southwest California Synod and Bishop Murray D. Finck of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Ecumenical guests included representatives from the United Church of Christ and the Methodist and Presbyterian churches.

The consecration service was disrupted briefly by a man and a young boy who held up a sign and a bible and shouted anti-gay comments. Applause erupted when someone in the congregation yelled back: "We're praying for you."

Referring to the disruption and to other protestors outside, Bruno said, "They don't understand the inclusive nature of the Episcopal Church."

The Anglican Mainstream issued a statement noting that the "consecration of openly gay Mary Glasspool is not a random event but comes from the settled mind of her church. Sadly, this shows that TEC has now explicitly decided to walk apart from most of the rest of the Communion.

The statement, signed by convenor Dr. Philip Giddings and Canon Dr. Chris Sugden, executive secretary, said that the consecration should result in the Episcopal Church "withdrawing, or being excluded from the Anglican Communion's representative bodies."

It called for recognition of the Anglican Church of North America as an authentic Anglican Church within the Communion and for a way to enable orthodox Anglicans remaining within the Episcopal Church to continue in fellowship with the churches of the worldwide Communion.

The Rev. Susan Russell, former Integrity USA President and chair of the diocesan program group on LGBT ministries, said, "What we do here today isn't just for this diocese but … it's a beacon of hope to everyone looking for a community willing to lead in love, justice and compassion for all people."

The service blended ancient rite and modern features and included poignant moments for both Bruce and Glasspool.

Glasspool, 55, had told a May 14 gathering of media that the service "is a benchmark for the whole church."

"We are being the church that we say we are," she added. "We're not just saying it, we're doing it and there's something very powerful about that. It's bigger than the both of us. So I'm looking forward with great awe as well as joy and some 'wow' to whatever the Holy Spirit has in mind."

The daughter of a priest, she had served congregations in Maryland, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and for the past years had served as canon to the bishops in the Baltimore-based Diocese of Maryland. Her life partner of 19 years is Becki Sander, who holds degrees in theology and social work.

Bruce, 53, told the May 14 media conference that she anticipated the moment her stepmother would place the miter on her head as a "very emotional one … because I lost my father on Maundy Thursday (April 1)." The miter, she explained, is a gift from her father and his wife.

A popular preacher and well-known priest, Bruce, who served a dozen years in the Los Angeles diocese prior to her election, is a former Roman Catholic who joined the Episcopal Church in 1986. The former banking executive, who speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish and English, served for nine years as rector of St. Clement by-the-Sea Church in San Clemente. She is married to Stephen Bruce; the couple has two adult children.

The six-county Diocese of Los Angeles encompasses 147 congregations, some 44 schools and 20 institutions and represents about 70,000 Episcopalians.

The Diocese of Los Angeles is one of 109 dioceses that form the Episcopal Church, located in 16 nations and territories, and part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

-- The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a national Episcopal News Service correspondent. She is based in Los Angeles.


Copyright © 2011 Episcopal News Service