Episcopal Church leader, the Reverend Jeffrey Lee, was
elected the 12th Bishop of Chicago at the diocese
convention on Saturday over seven other candidates,
one of them an openly lesbian priest.
In a statement
distributed to the more than 500 delegates before the
vote, Lee said he wanted to keep a conversation going with
conservatives on the issue of gay clergy. But he also
said he has stood for ''the full inclusion of gay and
lesbian people in the church.''
''He would be
perceived as someone who is qualified for the job but not
polarizing as other candidates might have been,'' said the
Reverend Canon Mike Stephenson of the diocese of
If the Reverend
Tracey Lind, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, had
been elected, she would have become the second bishop living
with a same-sex partner in the Episcopal Church, which
is the Anglican body in the United States. The 2003
consecration of New Hampshire bishop V. Gene Robinson,
who has a male partner, has pushed the world Anglican
Communion to the brink of schism.
Lee, rector of
St. Thomas Church in Medina, Wash., was elected on the
second ballot, after winning the most votes on an earlier
ballot without achieving the needed majority.
Lind was fourth
on both ballots.
supports the inclusion of lesbians and gays but also does
not exclude members who disagree with that stance, Lee said
in his statement.
''I make it clear
that I don't expect everyone to agree with me, but as a
leader I have a duty to articulate my own understanding of
what God may be calling the church to do,'' Lee wrote
of his position on welcoming gays to the church.
ceremony is planned for February 2. Chicago bishop William
Persell plans to resign after his successor is consecrated.
A majority of the
77 million-member Anglican Communion, a loose-knit
worldwide coalition of churches that align themselves with
the Church of England, hold traditional views that
homosexuality is condemned by Scripture, while a
majority in the Episcopal Church do not.
year, Anglican leaders demanded that the Americans pledge
unequivocally not to consecrate another gay bishop or
approve an official prayer service for same-sex
Episcopal bishops said at a September meeting in New Orleans
that they would ''exercise restraint'' in approving another
gay bishop and wouldn't authorize prayers to bless
same-sex couples -- a position Lee supported.
Lee explained in
his written comments that his support for that stance
''came from a deep desire to keep the conversation going
forward at the international level.''
conservatives condemned the response as inadequate,
while some liberals accused the bishops of sacrificing gays
for the sake of unity.
outgoing bishop, said many delegates Saturday understood
that the election of Lind would have caused controversy.
election should not be seen as a vote against a gay or
lesbian person,'' he said, adding that the
40,000-strong diocese was as committed as ever to the
full inclusion of gays and lesbians. (Michael Tarm,