DETROIT, Mich. — The Michigan Diocese of the Episcopal Church has ordained its first lesbian as bishop.
Bonnie Perry was consecrated during a ceremony on Feb. 8 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in Dearborn, followed by a seating at The Cathedral of St. Paul in Detroit. The ceremony was led by Presiding Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry, who had been chosen to deliver the message during the 2018 royal wedding in the United Kingdom.
“I think that this is a wonderful day, not just for the Episcopal church, but for the faith of Christianity, as a face that smiles, and that really is loving, and really is welcoming,” he told Michigan Public Radio. “Bishop-elect Bonnie Perry represents that faith.”
“For me, it’s about full inclusion for all people — straight, gay, bi, trans, gender fluid. This is about everyone; all are welcome,” Perry also stated, according to CNN. “Every time you exclude someone, you exclude the possibility of change and transformation.”
Perry “married” Susan Harlow in December 2012 and has led All Saints Episcopal Church in Chicago since 1992. She was ordained a deacon and priest in New Jersey 30 years ago.
“If you look at Scripture, Jesus said absolutely nothing about homosexuality,” Perry claimed during a press conference on Friday, according to ABC News. “And over and over and over again, we see Jesus always being with people who were perceived by other folks to be on the margin, to be outsiders or less than or not worthy.”
In pointing back to Genesis, Jesus said in Mark 10:7-8, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh.” Jesus, who is God and who thus wrote the moral law of God as given to Moses, said in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”
“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled,” he declared. “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven. But whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.”
Perry now succeeds Wendell Gibbs, who retired at the end of last year. While she is the first lesbian leader for the Michigan diocese, she is not the first homosexual nationwide to be ordained as bishop. In 2010, the Los Angeles, California diocese elected Mary Douglas Glasspool, a lesbian. In 2003, Gene Robinson was elected to be bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire. He delivered an invocation at the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama.
The Bible says of the qualifications for a bishop in 1 Timothy 3:1-5 that Church leaders are to be men and the “husband of one wife.”
“A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre, but patient, not a brawler, not covetous,” it states. “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity. For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?”