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The first female bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa shatters the 'stained glass ceiling'

Rev. Meg Wagner, Missioner for Congregational Development, Communications, and Reconciliation
The Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Rev. Betsey Monnot (left) will be the first female bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will be the chief consecrator for the service.

Rev. Betsey Monnot will become the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa this weekend. She will also be the first female bishop to serve since the diocese was organized in 1853.

Monnot was elected last summer out of three other candidates, all of whom were women. She said that was a sign that it was time for a female bishop, because no matter who won the election, the office would still go to a woman.

"That stained glass ceiling is breaking. It is shattering. And I want to say that in Iowa, more than half of our congregations are primarily led by female clergy. So there’s been a lot of cracks in that stained glass ceiling and tomorrow, it will shatter," she said.

Previously, Monnot has served in churches all over California, supported by her husband and three sons.

Monnot’s ordination and consecration service will be this Saturday in West Des Moines. There will be about 200 volunteers to set up and more than 400 people are expected to attend the event, which will follow COVID-19 precautions.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will be the chief consecrator for the service.

"When Jesus did say, my house would be called a house of prayer for all people, I think he actually meant it," Curry laughed. "Which means I want the church to be a community where all of God's children are represented. The slaves used to sing a spiritual that said, 'In My Father's Kingdom, there's plenty of good room for all God's children. If that is true, then let the church represent that and then let the church help the society learn how we can be a place where there's room for everybody equally. And when that begins to happen, we'll have a different world, not just a different church, but a different world."

Curry has been ordained for more than 40 years, and he said Monnot's election is the first time he has seen an-all women slate of candidates.

One thing Monnot is looking forward to is seeing the world connect during the ceremony. The event will be livestreamed and other provinces within the worldwide Anglican Communion, ranging from Scotland to South Sudan, are expected to stream in.

The extra COVID precautions don't bum out Monnot nor Curry, who said it's especially important for people to care for one another during a pandemic.

"Because that's what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus told a parable about a good Samaritan. We need to be good Samaritans, which we're going to do that, but we're going to be together and we're going to be physically together, we'll be virtually together. And you know what? That's a sign that we can make it even through this pandemic," he said.

Following the consecration, Monnot will be seated at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral on Sunday in Des Moines.

Kassidy was a reporter based in Des Moines