The Tipping Point: Being who we are.

Canon Mary Glasspool will, in all likelihood, receive sufficient consents from bishops, and those, along with the consents of Standing Committees throughout The Episcopal Church, will mean that she will be ordained and consecrated a bishop on May 15th in Los Angeles.

However one uses the phrase "tipping point," it would seem this event qualifies.
Tipping points are "the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable." But the changes which Glasspool's election signal have already happened.

The so called"change" heralded by the consents to CanonGlasspool's election is not so much a change as it is a confirmation of a fact: This church does have gay and lesbian persons in partnered relationships in all orders of ordained ministry.

So the strange bird the ACAWKI arrives and
will yell about the end of the Anglican Communion As We Know It. The bird and the news hounds are just jabbering, selling papers and getting hits on their blogs. They are wrong.

Change is already here: About gay and lesbian persons in partnered relationships, Resolution D025 of the 2009 General Convention, in its fifth resolve states, "Resolved, That the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst." It is a statement of fact.

The tipping point has already been reached. There will be all sorts of muttering about how the consents for Canon Glasspool or her actual ordination will spell the end of the Anglican Communion as we know it. It will not.

The Anglican Communion as we know it is a fellowship that includes National or regional churches in which women as well as men are ordained to all orders of ordained ministry, in which some men and women so ordered are gay or lesbian, and in which some gay and lesbian clergy are in partnered relationships. It turns out that in this fellowship of churches there are some places were differences of gender and sexual orientation matter less than do matters pertaining to the content of character and holiness of call. It turns out that The Episcopal Church is such a place.

Should Canon Glasspool not receive the consents necessary (highly unlikely at this point) it will not mean that we some how "stood at the brink" and stepped back. It will mean that once again the at least partially democratic process of election and confirmation in this part of the body of Christ worked its way to a conclusion, and not necessarily a final one at that. (Remember the return of Bishop Lawrence for a second round?)

In the world of supposedly newsworthy triumphs and defeats the election of Canon Glasspool was touted as yet another occasion for jumping up and down and yelling about the end of the "Anglican Communion as we know it." The
call has sounded. Don't believe it this time, which ever way it goes for Canon Glasspool.

There are also those who will claim that in giving consents we will have proof that The Episcopal Church has "walked away" from the Anglican Communion. To the contrary, we will have proof that we have walked into its future, already here.

Just for the record, Bishop elect Glasspool will be a wonderful and Godly addition to the House of Bishops and to the life and ministry of this Church.


  1. Can you re-sort this post to match the sentence fragments up with their counterparts?

  2. Like so many other predictions, this prediction is really about the end of the Anglican Communion as we imagined it. Anglicans have created a picture of "the way things used to be" which was simply inaccurate. From the notion that Bishops never change their minds about important issues to the notion that we handled the issue of women's ordination in an orderly fashion, there are assertions about our Anglican history that need be refuted. Family life is messy and the history of this peculiar family in no exception.

  3. Paul(A) I think I did moments after posting the first take. It seems that Blogger and my curser ran counter to one another. (Sigh). M.

  4. I find this a curious way to describe life in the Communion. Since 2003 the ACAWKI has changed as a fellowship because various bishops stopped having communion with each other and chose not to attend this meeting or that conference. In theory that may have been a blip in ACAWKI because TEC might have walked a different path.

    Even as late as the first few days after GC 2009 letters from the PB and HOD gave the impression that maybe TEC would not confirm the path it had been on since 2003. (As I recall, however, commentators such as yourself refrained from joining a chorus of support for that line!). Thus restoration to ACAWKI has been a theoretical possibility. Now we are on the verge of confirmation that it is not. We will not see a return any time soon to all the Primates meeting together or to prospects for Lambeth being held with 100% attendance.

    ACAWKI has changed. Confirmation of the Glasspool election will be confirmation of that change. It may yet lead to further changes!

  5. Consecrating Mary Glasspool is probably the biggest favor we can do for the Anglican Communion. As you suggest, there is no going back for The Episcopal Church, but the church, in its official actions, has acted with great ambiguity. Our PBs did not disavow primates’ communiqu├ęs; we did not officially attend the last ACC meeting; we passed B033; our bishops encouraged Rowan in New Orleans. In short, we have led our detractors to think that, in the end, we can be pushed around. Perhaps, more to the point, we have allowed Rowan to think that he can keep the Communion together by using TEC as a whipping boy. By disabusing everyone of their illusions, we make it clear that they either need to learn how to live with TEC or they will have to walk apart.

  6. we did not officially attend the last ACC meeting

    Lionel, TEC did not officially participate in the previous to the last ACC meeting in Nottingham, England. The last one, in Kingston, Jamaica, TEC did attend officially with voice and vote.

  7. Rowan's phone bill to Katie will be very big..... don't think he can persuade her again to "play the long game"?

  8. I'll breathe a sigh of relief after Mary Glasspool receives consents from the bishops, but you're right, Mark; we have reached the tipping point, whether Canon Glasspool receives consents or not.

    Lionel, I strongly agree when you say:

    ...but the church, in its official actions, has acted with great ambiguity.

    If Mary Glasspool is consecrated, a good deal of the ambiguity will be swept away. The rest of the churches in the Communion will have a clearer picture of who we are.

  9. David,

    I stand corrected. I meant the Nottingham meeting, of course.

  10. And so it is... she has received consents and we move forward... at the same time, I wonder quietly who else is going to leave the congregation I serve over this, given that three people left last summer post General Convention. So while my heart exults in this news, it also knows the announcement may be costly at home.

  11. The real news flash is that a majority of the men and women in purple shirts have a backbone and have consented to Mary's election.

    Thanks be to God.

    May 'justice' always be our 'tipping point'.

    Now, off I go to check out the Orthodox Chicken Littles to get a wee bit of the noise coming from the Coop where they are convinced the Anglican sky is falling


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.