The ‘two most famous married lesbian priests’ will stand defiant against haters on eve of historic Anglican summit

Anglican Lambeth Conference

The night before a once-in-a-decade conference of Anglican bishops, “the two most famous Anglican married lesbians” will lead an “inclusive eucharist”.

The Lambeth conference is an assembly of Anglican bishops, last held in 2008. The 2020 event, to be held on July 25, is expected to attract around 1,000 bishops from 165 countries, and will likely be monopolised by discussion of gender, sexuality and marriage.

The Church of England continues to reject same-sex unions despite pleas from LGBT+ members. This month, a poll showed that more people in the Church of England now support same-sex marriage than oppose it.

The night before the conference, at a church in Canterbury, a service will be led by two married lesbians.

Reverend Mary Glasspool, assistant bishop in New York, will preside over the service. She has been with her spouse for more than 30 years and was the first openly gay woman to be consecrated as an Anglican bishop.

Reverend Mpho Tutu van Furth, South African anti-apartheid campaigner and daughter of Desmond Tutu, will preach at the service. Formerly a priest, she was forced to give up her license after marrying her wife, Marceline, in 2016.

Tutu van Furth and Glasspool have been described by the Ozanne Foundation, one of the sponsors for the inclusive service, as “arguably the two most famous Anglican married lesbians”.

Glasspool said: “It is an honour and a privilege to be a part of this ‘Inclusive Eucharist’, in which we say to all people everywhere: You are loved by our loving God and welcome at Christ’s table.

“Like others, I initially queried the use of the phrase ‘Inclusive Eucharist’, given that all eucharistic celebrations are, of their very essence, inclusive.

“However, I am aware that there are sadly many places in the world where this is not yet the case. I hope that, in some small way, this celebration can be a part of changing that.”

Tutu van Furth added: “Welcome and hospitality are prized values of the Middle Eastern heritage of our Christian tradition. We want every person who joins us in worship to know to the very fibre of their being that they are welcome.”

Anglican Lambeth Conference

Books for sale at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby attracted anger last year for barring same-sex spouses from the Lambeth conference.

Glasspool was sent a letter by Welby, informing her of his “decision not to invite your spouse to the Lambeth Conference, a decision that I am well aware will have caused you pain, which I regret deeply”.

In response, she wrote a two-page letter which she concluding by saying: “Perhaps the most important thing I want to say this: It’s about LOVE!

“I am talking about people who love one another and look to the church to support them in their lifelong marriages.

“The values of faithfulness, respect, dignity, truth-telling, monogamy and the love that is our loving God’s gift to all of us, are upheld.”