Episcopalians will consider a third
openly gay bishop next month in Utah.
Openly gay Rev. Michael L. Barlowe is
one of four finalists vying to replace retiring Bishop Carolyn Tanner
Irish of the Utah Diocese in
a special election to be held May 22.
Barlowe married his husband, the Rev.
Paul Burrows, in San Francisco during the narrow May-to-November
window in 2008 when gay marriage was legal in California.
If elected, Barlowe would become the
third openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, joining New
Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who was installed in 2003, and Los
Angeles Suffragan Bishop Mary D. Glasspool, whose ordination is
scheduled to take place on May 5 at the Long Beach Arena.
Also being considered for the post are:
the Rev. Juan A. Quevedo-Bosch, the Rev. Mary C. Sulerud and the Rev.
Scott B. Hayashi.
Speaking with the Salt Lake Tribune,
Ric Tanner, president of the Utah church's Standing Committee, which
advises the bishop, called the four finalists “immediately
engaging.” “We felt that any one of them would help us draw
together as a church family, given the challenges of the diocese's
great geographic separation and cultural diversity, between downtown
Salt Lake City and Native American parishes on Utah's southern
Talk of a third openly gay bishop
taking place alongside Glasspool's ascension is certain to fuel an
already overheated standoff between the 77 million-member Anglican
Communion and its more liberal American branch, the Episcopal Church.
Robinson's 2003 ordination infuriated
church conservatives and led to a self-imposed moratorium on the
election of gay bishops.
Last July, however, the church reversed
course when it voted in favor of lifting the ban at its general
convention. Within six months the Los Angeles diocese had nominated
Dr. Rowan Williams, the spiritual
leader of the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury,
called Glasspool's election “regrettable” and suggested the
Episcopal Church's moves threaten the bonds between the two churches.
The Utah Diocese will consecrate its
new bishop on November 6.