Local or global? Where should a bishop’s allegiance lie?

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, who voted to approve the election of Mary Glasspool as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles, touched off some spirited conversation in the blogosphere last week by explaining why she chose not to participate in Bishop Glasspool’s consecration. What interests me is less the bishop’s decision, about which I think good people can disagree, than how she reached it.

She was asked not to participate by two other bishops in the Anglican Communion with whom her diocese is in a partnership, and she decided to accede to their request.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard about a bishop making a decision based on the desires of other bishops, or of ecumenical partners. One bishop whom I respect told me he couldn’t participate in an organization I had helped organize because the believed that the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops had to be his “primary community of discernment.”

Part of me is annoyed by bishops who forget who elected them, and forget who worked to get them elected. Part of me understands that we elect bishops to function in the wider church, and the broader religious landscape. Putting aside the specifics of Bishop Gray-Reeves case, where do you stand on this? The needs and desires of one’s diocese are, in some instances, at odds with the needs and desires of one’s colleagues in the episcopacy, or one’s partners in ecumenical and interfaith work. How should these local/global tensions be resolved?

(Anyone suggesting that this isn’t an either/or situation, but a both/and receives a 12-hour ban for flagrant predictability. Anyone suggesting that the bishop’s responsibility is primarily to Jesus gets a 24 hour ban for answering a question I am not asking, as I assume this to be a given.)

Past Posts