Two openly gay ministers have been nominated to assist the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishops, setting up another test case for The Episcopal Church, whose actions in recent years have strained relations within the wider Anglican Communion.
One day after the search committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota announced an actively gay minister as one of three nominees for bishop, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles revealed that two of six nominees for suffragan bishops are openly gay, including one who has been with her "life partner" since 1988.
"I give thanks for the hard work of the Search and Nominating Committee whose members will work up to and through the election to shepherd the candidates and assist the Diocese in making its choices," stated the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, diocesan bishop of the L.A. Episcopal Diocese, following Sunday's announcement of the nominees.
"I affirm each and every one of these candidates and am pleased at the wide diversity they offer this Diocese," he added.
The moves by the L.A. Diocese and the Minnesota Diocese come less than a month after The Episcopal Church's 76th General Convention passed a resolution that U.S. Episcopal leaders stressed did not repeal a 2006 resolution calling upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction "to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."
"This General Convention has not repealed Resolution B033," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson, president of the Episcopal House of Deputies, emphasized in a letter to the Anglican Communion's primates and spiritual leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
"It remains to be seen how Resolution B033 will be understood and interpreted in light of Resolution D025," they added, though acknowledging that some clergy may interpret the newly passed resolution as providing more latitude in consecrating bishops while others may not.
While D025 states that The Episcopal Church reaffirms its "abiding commitment" to the Anglican Communion, it also states that the American arm of Anglicanism affirms that "God has called and may call ... to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church" gay and lesbian persons "living in lifelong committed relationships characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God."
Since the election of The Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop in 2003, relations between the U.S. Anglican arm and the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion have been strained to the point of tearing.
While adherents of the Christian faith have historically taught that homosexuality is a sin according to Scripture, more liberal believers say biblical teachings on inclusiveness should take precedence and nullify any such teachings against homosexuality.
Conservative Christians, however, maintain the belief that homosexuals – while welcome in the Church – should not be allowed to hold positions of leadership within the Church. They also feel that the Church should not bless homosexual relationships, as this would be tantamount to blessing a sinful act.
According to Sunday's announcement, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles will elect two suffragan bishops during its Diocesan Convention Dec. 4-5.
The election of the Minnesota Diocese's ninth bishop, meanwhile, is slated to take place during its Diocesan Convention in Minneapolis on Oct. 31.
The full slate of candidates, who can be nominated until Aug. 14, will be announced Sept. 25.