Thursday, September 30, 2010

First Woman & First Openly Gay Dean at Grace Cathedral

From the New York Times

Making History, Twice, at Grace Cathedral

The installation of Jane Alison Shaw as the eighth dean of Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill on Nov. 6 is a milestone — she will be the first woman to lead the cathedral, which was founded during the Gold Rush in 1849.

Dr. Shaw will also be the cathedral’s first openly gay dean.

“I’m glad I live in a moment in history when I can answer the call,” Dr. Shaw said in a telephone interview from England, where she is finishing work as the dean of divinity at Oxford University.

While one’s sexual orientation rarely raises an eyebrow in San Francisco these days, the Episcopal Church has been torn apart over the issue of full inclusion for gay men and lesbians. Dr. Shaw’s elevation to lead one of the denomination’s most prominent churches is “a signal moment,” said The Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, bishop of the Diocese of California. “We seek to be a house of prayer for all people.”

The bishop, whose diocese comprises churches in the Bay Area, said Grace Cathedral was one of the largest Episcopal churches in the United States and was “ scrutinized worldwide” by the greater Anglican Communion’s 80 million members.

The appointment has some predicting that Dr. Shaw’s high-profile position could make her a significant presence in the Bay Area’s gay and lesbian community — should she choose to take that role.

“Having someone in that position who is a living example of our community is going to broaden perspectives,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, the organization that campaigned against Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage. Mr. Kors noted that many Christian churches supported the ban, and said he hoped that an openly gay Christian religious leader could change minds, or reach across pew aisles.

Read the rest of the story here.

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