The Diocese of Stockholm in the Lutheran Church of Sweden, with which the Church of England is in communion, has elected a new bishop. Nothing unusual there, except the bishop-elect is not only a woman, but also a lesbian. Eva Brunne lives in a registered partnership with another woman and has a young son.
She was elected by a significant majority of 413 votes to 365 against Hans Ulfvebrand, her opponent in the final second round of the election on May 26. How refreshing to see a Bishop chosen in an open manner by a wide range of people who know the gifts, experience and suitability of the candidates, rather than the mysterious appointments system of the Church of England.
Bishop-elect Eva has been chosen as the most suitable person for this leadership role, regardless of her sexuality. We can and do applaud the Church of Sweden for this prophetic decision, but we look for the day when such an appointment in the Church of England would not in itself be newsworthy.
By the Porvoo Agreement, the Church of Sweden is also in communion with the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales and the Church of Ireland. Is it too much to hope that leaders of these Anglican churches can be open to learn from their sister church in Sweden, and embrace the ministries of their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered members?