Historic Lesbian Marriage Unites Top Clergy of Episcopal Church
The historic marriage of Episcopal Divinity School, dean and president, the Very Reverend Katherine Hancock Ragsdale and Mally Lloyd, Canon to the Ordinary, took place yesterday at the Cathedral Church of St Paul in Boston.
The marriage of Episcopal Divinity School, dean and president, the Very Reverend Katherine Hancock Ragsdale and Mally Lloyd, Canon to the Ordinary, was the first lesbian marriage solemnized by the Right Reverend M Thomas Shaw SSJE, Bishop Diocesan of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.
At the marriage attended by close to 400 guests, Bishop Shaw commented: “God always rejoices when two people who love each other make a life long commitment in marriage to go deeper into the heart of God through each other. It’s a profound pleasure for me to celebrate with God and my friends, the marriage of Katherine and Mally.”
The couple met on June 30, 2008, at the urging of a mutual friend. At the time, Canon Lloyd, 57, said, “We were both travelling a lot and so we would talk by phone. And somehow when you talk a lot by phone, a relationship can go deeper more quickly than when you spend time in person. At least that is what happened to us.”
Although this is a second marriage for Canon Lloyd, it is the first for Dean Ragsdale,52. “It’s astonishing how the world is changing,’’ Dean Ragsdale said, “when I grew up, I never believed I would be able to have someone special in my life and now to have almost 400 people show up to support us at our marriage ceremony is wonderful.”
Canon Lloyd says: “We have a lot in common, we each have a spiritual life that the other understands and respects and we also understand the amount of travelling and often late hours that our work requires. Somehow too when you are in your fifties, certain things just aren’t as big a problem as they seemed in your twenties.”
Though the Episcopal Church's canons and formularly still state that marriage is between a man and a woman, the church at its General Convention in July of 2009 decided to allow that "bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church."
In November 2009, Shaw announced his decision to allow clergy in the Diocese of Massachusetts to solemnize all marriages--a long wait for many given that same-gender marriage had been legalized in Massachusetts more than five years earlier.
Ragsdale, 52, became dean of the historic Episcopal Divinity School in October 2009. She is the first woman to hold that position. The school is among the most progressive seminaries in the world. It was the first to train African-American theologians, the first to accept women on its faculty and among the first to prepare women for ordination. The Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu selected the school with his daughter Mpho for her theological education.
Ragsdale is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and holds a master of divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary and a doctor of ministry degree from Episcopal Divinity School. She served as vicar of St. David's Church in Pepperell and as president of Political Research Associates in Somerville before her appointment as president and dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in 2009.
Ragsdeale has served on the national boards of the White House Project, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. She has worked in the national offices of the Episcopal Church and as a consultant in the areas of professional ethics, organizational planning and development, advocacy training, and theological foundations of public policy advocacy.
Lloyd, 57, as canon to the ordinary to Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE since December 2008, serves as a chief executive, overseeing operations for one of the Episcopal Church's largest and most politically active dioceses. She is a deputy to the Episcopal Church's General Convention and a member of the church's influential Program, Budget and Finance Committee.
Prior to joining the bishop's staff, Lloyd was for six years the rector of Christ Church in Plymouth. She has been an active leader in the diocese for many years, serving on Diocesan Council and its Executive Committee and providing mentorship through the Fresh Start program for clergy beginning in new ministry.