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Yet Another Woman Bishop. Ho, Hum!

While the Vatican wrings its hands over the “grievous sin” of the attempted ordination of women, yet another woman, Rev. Teresa Snorton, has been ordained bishop, this time in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, in Mobile, Alabama. She is just the latest among many women formally recognized as bishop in modern times, including at least two lesbians:  Eva Brunne of the Swedish Lutheran Church, and Mary Glasspool, Episcopalian bishop in LA.

The Anglican communion has been ordaining women as bishop for over twenty years (the first was Barbara Clementine Harris, in Massachusetts, back in 1989). Since then there have been 17 more, including Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is now the first female primate of an Anglican region. There are also Anglican bishops in New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Cuba (yes, really!).  The Church of England has approved the principle of women bishops, to tale effect from 2012. Female bishops have also been approved, but not yet appointed, by Anglican churches in Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America,  Ireland,  Japan,  Mexico,  North India,  Philippines,  Scotland, Southern Africa,  and Sudan.

The United Methodist Church in the US was the first mainline Protestant denomination to appoint a woman as bishop, Marjorie Matthews in 1980. There have been 2o more since. In Germany, Rosemarie Wenner has been the leading bishop in the United Methodist Church since 2005. The Lutheran church in Germany also  has women bishops, as they do across Europe.

Don’t forget either the bishops of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement, South African Patricia Fresen, Austrian Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and German Gisela Forster, or the powerful abbesses of the medieval church, whose authority in some instances exceeded that of their local bishops.

So, without any disrespect to Rev. Snorton, her selection as a female bishop, is of consequence primarily to her local community, her denomination, and her family and friends.  The ordination of female bishops, let alone priests, is now old news. Will someone please tell the Vatican?

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Kentucky native becomes first woman bishop of her denomination

The Rev. Teresa Snorton, a Hopkinsville, Ky., native who earned degrees at both of Louisville’s seminaries and started her ministry here, has become the first woman bishop in the 140-year history of her denomination.

The 55-year-old Snorton — with a long history as pastor, chaplain and counselor — was elected bishop by the General Conference of the Christian Methodist Episcopal in Mobile, Ala., which concluded July 4.

But even after achieving that milestone, Snorton will be facing a monumental challenge. Her district encompasses parts of Africa that include nations ravaged by war, disease and poverty. Among them are Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“We do have some ambitious projects for a school, a hospital and new church buildings that are going to require some focused attention on my part,” she said in a telephone interview from Georgia, where she now lives. Her new job will require extensive travel to Africa, but she plans to continue residing in Georgia.

-Read the full report


2 Responses

  1. You speak as if all these denominations use the word “bishop” in the same way. They don’t. They all define & exercise “epi-scope” or “over-sight” differently.

    Dr. Jefferts Schori has a Ph. D. oceanography. Prior to her election as presiding bishop (the original title, the ECUSA’s House of Bishops didn’t add the word “primate” until recently) was the Episcopal Bishop of Nevada, shepherd to some 6,000 souls for less than 10 years. That’s less than most medium to large Roman Catholic parishes, and far less pastoral experience than most Roman Catholic priests under 30 years of age.

    In Roman Catholic terms, Jefferts Schori might, being generous, be roughly equivalent to a priest with a late vocation serving as a rural dean. Ho hum indeed.

  2. As it took the Vatican over 400 years to recognize the helio-centric nature of the solar system, it may take a while for them to recognize that, as western society becomes less paternalistic in general, the Spirit is calling more women to fill roles in spiritual leadership – not because the Divine is now magically more open to them, but that we are more able to accept them.

    Just a thought.

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