It was 3 years ago when the Episcopal Church raised the ire of many parishes within and other denominations with the election of Bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire. Well, get ready for the ire to be raised up again with the upcoming election for Bishop in the diocese of California.
With seven candidates in the running to be the next Bishop for the church in the Bay area of California, the field is pretty diverse. Of the seven candidates, there are two gays and one lesbian in the running. Even though the church and the candidates would rather not be known for their sexual orientation, it seems as though that will be the first thing folks say. Gay Bishop … Some people say that should prefaces everything, some say what difference does it make.
Rev. Bonnie Perry of Ravenswood's (Chicagoland) All Saints Episcopal Church put the issue this way in a recent interview: "The folks in my interview were much more interested in what gifts and skills I would bring to leading the Diocese of California, and that's where we focused the vast majority of our time...I would like to be a leader in our church and possibly a bishop without having the 'gay and lesbian' adjective always attached to my name."
I sense that is the way that many, gay or straight, feel about the issue.
A spokesman for the Diocese said, "There is nothing the Anglican community can do to us, but they can say they're no longer in communion with us." While some leaders have apologized to the worldwide community following the election of Bishop Gene Robinson in New England in 2003, there is no move to remove him from his position. It seems the word is: we are sorry if the fact that Bishop Robinson is gay but he was elected so get over it.
The 77 million members of Episcopal and Anglican churches worldwide will feel the repercussions almost immediately. For some it will be celebration time that the church in America has made a strong stand. For some who hung on after Robinson's election with hope of someone coming to their senses, will be ready to walk.
It seems as though it might be asking too much to choose a Bishop based on their spiritual qualifications and leadership abilities. I know for some that sexual orientation is a qualification of a spiritual nature. It will be interesting to see the post voting comments of the delegates and see if the issue weighed heavy on their minds.
Which ever way the voting goes, the issue will not go away. Neither will the talk surrounding it. I guess we will wait to see who will don the bishops' apparel.