Former Brattleboro pastor elected Maine's first openly gay bishop

Rev. Thomas James Brown

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The Associated Press

BANGOR, Maine — The first openly gay Episcopal bishop in Maine is expected to be consecrated this June after receiving his blessing from clergy and congregants.

The Rev. Thomas James Brown was elected Saturday night by a majority of the 261 clergy members and laypeople after three rounds of balloting at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, the Portland Press Herald reports .

Brown has served as rector at the Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, Massachusetts, since 2009. Before that, he served at a church in Brattleboro (St. Michael's Episcopal Church) and as director of alumni and church relations at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkley, California.

The Michigan native says his views align with Maine congregants who want to articulate their faith in Jesus "while still remaining open to people of other faith and no faith."

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Brown will be the third openly gay Episcopal bishop elected in the U.S. pending confirmation by other Episcopal dioceses in coming weeks.

In 2003, Gene Robinson was the first openly gay Episcopal bishop to be elected in the New Hampshire Diocese. Robinson retired in 2013.

Six years later, the Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese elected the Rev. Mary Glasspool, as its suffragan bishop. She's currently an assistant bishop in the Diocese of New York.

In Maine, Brown will succeed Bishop Stephen Lane, who is retiring. The Episcopal Diocese of Maine includes about 10,000 people in 59 churches and ministries across the state.