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Gay Episcopal Priest Nominated For Bishop

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(WGN-AM)- Just three weeks after the Episcopal Church lifted a de facto moratorium on approving gay bishops, a Chicago priest in a committed same-sex relationship has been named one of three nominees for Bishop of Minnesota.

Rev. Bonnie Perry, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in the Ravenswood neighborhood, announced the nomination to parishioners in a statement on Sunday. A certified kayak instructor, she is out of the country on a long-planned kayaking trip and unavailable for comment.

"As we all continue to discern God's call, I pray that we will bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that changes people's lives and proclaims the profound inclusivity and hospitality of God," she told parishioners in her statement.

The other nominees include Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Minneapolis; and Rev. Brian Prior, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Spokane, Wash.

The Minnesota nomination is not Perry's first. In 2005, she was on a roster of nominees for Bishop of California. She said she has turned down other invitations to participate in diocesan bishop selection processes. But the Minnesota Diocese's theology and proximity to Lake Superior, known among Native Americans as Lake Gitchigumi, one of her favorite kayaking destinations, led her to answer this call, she said.

"I am also aware in the current worldwide Anglican climate it may be very difficult for me--an out, partnered lesbian to be elected and/or to receive consents," she said in her profile for the Minnesota Diocese. "That said, I am entering this discernment process now because I was invited and because your vision of a spiritual transformed diocese has made me cry with hope for what could be."

Opposition to the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man in a committed relationship, sparked a rift in the worldwide Anglican Communion and led several dioceses to sever ties with the American church and form their own North American province.

Perry's partner of 22 years, Rev. Susan Harlow, serves as director of congregational development and professor of practical theology at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston. Perry also has served as an adjunct professor of congregational development at the seminary.

Conservative bloggers blasted the nomination on Sunday, predicting that it will further strain relations with the worldwide church. Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina, called the nomination "another example of the lack of restraint and defiance" on the part of the Episcopal Church, the American arm of the Anglican Communion.

(The Chicago Tribune contributed to this story)

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