The three bishops of the Diocese of New York write to their diocese regarding Lambeth 2020 and the exclusion of the spouses of bishops in same-sex marriages. The policy would exclude the spouse of the Bishop Assistant of New York, the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool:
Archbishop Welby wrote a letter to Bishop Glasspool, and copied Bishop Dietsche, in early December, and the three of us have been in conversation on this matter for the time since. We have considered not attending, in protest over this extraordinary action. But in the end we have concluded that we cannot in conscience remove the voice of the Diocese of New York from the larger conversations at Lambeth regarding sexuality and the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the full sacramental life of the church. We certainly do not want to exclude the unique witness of Bishop Mary and her ministry from those debates and deliberations. So, not without mixed feelings, we the bishops of New York will be attending the Lambeth Conference.
From the start, it has been the conviction of the spouses of Bishops Andy and Allen that they would fully and unambiguously support Becki, their sister and friend. They too look forward to being in conversation with the fuller community of bishops’ spouses, but at this time it is the intention of Becki Sander to accompany Bishop Mary to England, though she will not be permitted to participate in the Lambeth conversations and activities. Margaret Dietsche and Clara Mun are also planning to go to England, to stand with Becki.
Religion News Service has further news.
One of the two sitting bishops affected by Archbishop Welby’s decision, Mary Glasspool, is an assistant bishop in the New York diocese. The first lesbian to be named a bishop in the Anglican Communion, she is married to Becki Sander. Kevin Robertson, suffragan bishop since 2016 in the Toronto diocese of the Church of Canada, married his longtime partner, Mohan Sharma, in December. The husband of Rev. Thomas Brown, slated to be consecrated as a bishop in the diocese of Maine in June, will also not be invited.
Robertson told Religion News Service he was profoundly disappointed but not surprised to learn that Sharma was not invited to the conference. He said he was grateful to have had a 20-minute meeting with Archbishop Welby in London last month. “The archbishop said to me that if he invited same-sex spouses to the Lambeth Conference there wouldn’t be a conference at all. I think he felt that it would be a step too far for some of the bishops if they were to attend.”
Simon Sarmiento, chair of the Church of England advocacy group LGBTI Mission, said, “It is bizarre to invite same-sex married bishops while excluding their spouses. This action fails on every count. It will be seen in England as pure homophobia, and it will do nothing to appease those bishops who refuse to view same-sex relationships as anything other than sinful.” “I wonder who the archbishop would uninvite if he was serious about the Anglican Communion’s opposition to homophobia,” Sarmiento added.