Supporters of a 52-year-old woman priest from Houston have failed, at least for the time being, in their attempt to elect the first female bishop in the Episcopal Church.
The Rev. Helen Havens, rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Houston, was in the running for bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Michigan to succeed retiring Bishop Coleman McGehee Jr. in a special diocesan election last Saturday.
However, Havens dropped out of the race after the third ballot. Elected on the fifth ballot was the Rev. R. Stewart Wood Jr., rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tenn.
The worldwide Anglican Communion--represented by the Episcopal Church in the United States--is divided on female ordination, a topic expected to dominate the upcoming worldwide Lambeth Conference of Anglicans in Canterbury, England, this summer.
Had Havens been elected and then consecrated a bishop before Lambeth, the action would have broken faith with what some--but not all--Episcopal bishops claim was a "gentleman's" agreement not to consecrate a female bishop before the conference.