The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles could elect the first openly gay bishop in its 114-year history, after naming its first woman to the same rank.
Two rounds of voting at the diocese's annual convention did not produce a winner among six candidates to replace the second of two retiring bishops, and balloting will resume Saturday.
When voting was cut off, the openly gay Rev. Mary D. Glasspool of Baltimore was still in the running and considered a favorite.
The election has garnered national attention because of Glasspool and another gay candidate, the Rev. John L. Kirkley of San Francisco, who withdrew late Friday.
If elected, Glasspool would be the first openly gay Episcopal bishop since Bishop V. Gene Robinson was chosen in New Hampshire in 2003. Robinson's win six years ago led dozens of conservative parishes and four dioceses to vote to leave the 2.1-million member U.S. denomination and pushed the 77 million-member Anglican fellowship to the brink of schism.
Rev. Diane M. Jardine Bruce, rector of St. Clement's-By-The-Sea Episcopal Church in San Clemente, was elected Friday to fill the first vacant position, becoming the first female bishop in the diocese.
Bruce, who was elected in the convention's third ballot, is a former bank executive who has spent the past 12 years working as a priest in Orange County.
What impact the selection of a second gay bishop will have is not clear. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of Anglicanism.
The majority of Anglicans outside the United States are theological conservatives.
Breakaway traditionalists in the U.S. have formed the Anglican Church in North America as a rival.
Episcopalians have made clear to the rest of the Anglican family, however, that they will not roll back their support for same-sex couples.
Last July, the Episcopal General Convention, the church's top policy-making body, effectively lifted a moratorium on electing another gay bishop. The temporary ban had been requested by Anglican leaders seeking to prevent a permanent break in the communion.
The Los Angeles diocese has 70,000 members and covers six Southern California counties.
On the Net: http://www.ladiocese.org