b. February 23, 1954
“My top priority is serving God’s people in God’s church.”
The Rt. Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool is the first out lesbian bishop in the Anglican Communion—an association of Anglican and Episcopal churches around the world. Glasspool follows in the footsteps of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Anglican bishop, who was consecrated in 2003.
Born on Staten Island, New York, Glasspool is the daughter of a conservative Episcopal priest. She attended Dickinson College and graduated magna cum laude. She received the college’s Hofstader Prize as the outstanding woman in her class.
Glasspool entered the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1976. At the time, the ordination of women was controversial and the church was generally unreceptive to LGBT participation.
Glasspool’s father was opposed to women’s ordination. Nevertheless, he supported his daughter’s calling. “In his own gracious way, he sort of separated out public and private,” Glasspool told Newsweek. While still a seminarian, she attended the church’s General Convention, where she made a presentation regarding the ordination of homosexuals.
Glasspool was ordained an Episcopal deacon in 1981. She became a priest and, later, assistant to the rector at St. Paul’s Church in Philadelphia, before accepting the rectorship at a church in Boston. While in Boston, she met her life partner, Becki Sander.
In 2001 Glasspool was chosen as canon to the bishops of the Diocese of Maryland. She was elected bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in 2009. That same year, the Episcopal General Convention resolved, “God’s call is open to all.”
Glasspool is the 17th woman to become an Episcopal bishop and the first out lesbian to become a bishop in the Anglican Communion. Her controversial election gained worldwide attention, helping shape the international debate about LGBT clergy in Anglicanism. Since 2015 Glasspool has served as a bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
Glasspool and Sander, a Ph.D. social worker, have been together since 1988.
Mary Douglas Glasspool is the first openly lesbian Episcopal bishop.