Gay bishop urges church to speak out

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. — The Rev. Gene Robinson began his ministry as the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop on Sunday by saying he wants to bring the message of God’s love to "those on the margins."

He also said the church should speak out on issues of social justice, including the lack of access to health care for many Americans.

"How dare we in this country spend $87 billion on war when 44 million people have no health insurance?" he said in his sermon. "It’s up to the church to lead on some of these moral issues."

After the service at All Saints Church, where he was married to his former wife, Robinson said he hopes that people who disagree with his confirmation will remain within the Episcopal Church, instead of breaking away.

"A church founded on unhappiness and anger is not going to go very far," he said.

New Hampshire’s Episcopalians elected Robinson as bishop in June, and his selection was approved at the convention of the Episcopal Church USA in August. But his consecration a week ago has threatened to divide the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism.

On Nov. 3, overseas bishops who said they represented 50 million of the world’s 77 million Anglicans jointly announced they were in a "state of impaired communion" with the Episcopal Church — a step short of declaring a full schism.

In addition, conservatives within the U.S. church have asked the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the Anglican Church, to authorize a separate Anglican province for them in North America.

In his sermon, Robinson said Jesus spent most of his time with women, tax collectors and foreigners, not with the rabbis and wealthy members of the temple.

Jesus "looked at the religious establishment of his day and realized they had closed their eyes to those on the margins," he said.

"Think of all the kinds of blindness right outside this door: not seeing people in need, or turning the other way when we do," he said.

Robinson told a story about three American soldiers in World War I whose fellow soldier was killed in combat, then was buried just outside the fence of a French churchyard because the priest didn’t know whether the soldier had been baptized. When the Americans returned to pay their respects, they couldn’t find his grave outside the fence.

The priest explained to them, "I realized I’d followed the rules, but I hadn’t done the right thing — so I moved the fence," Robinson said.

"You and I in Jesus’ name are called to move the fence … as far away from us as possible," Robinson said.

At a reception for the bishop following the service, churchgoer Jack Jones said he was "all for" Robinson.

"He’s a real brave man, and intelligent, and if people don’t want to come to church for him, let them go somewhere else," said Jones, 64.

Elsewhere in the state, about half the members of the Episcopal parish in Rochester walked out of Sunday services to protest the dismissal of their interim minister, who opposes Robinson’s appointment.

Bishop Douglas Theuner of the Diocese of New Hampshire removed the Rev. Donald Wilson on Friday for insubordination when Wilson refused to come to Concord to meet with Theuner on the matter. Robinson will automatically succeed Theuner when the bishop retires next year.

Copyright ©2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Mt. Baker visible from the summit of Mt. Dickerman on a late summer day in 2017. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)
Hornets pester hikers on popular Mountain Loop trails

“You cannot out run the stings,” one hiker wrote in a trip report. The Forest Service has posted alerts at two trailheads.

A view of a 6 parcel, 4.4 acre piece of land in Edmonds, south of Edmonds-Woodway High School on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Housing authority seeks more property in Edmonds

The Housing Authority of Snohomish County doesn’t have specific plans for land near 80th Avenue West, if its offer is accepted.

Nursing Administration Supervisor Susan Williams points at a list of current COVID patients at Providence Regional Medical Center on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Dozens of Providence patients in medical limbo for months, even years

About 100 people are stuck in Everett hospital beds without an urgent medical reason. New laws aim for a solution.

Emergency responders surround an ultralight airplane that crashed Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at the Arlington Municipal Airport in Arlington, Washington, resulting in the pilot's death. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Pilot dead in ultralight plane crash at Arlington Municipal Airport

There were no other injuries or fatalities reported, a city spokesperson said.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
County Council delays vote on requiring businesses to take cash

Concerns over information and enforcement postponed the council’s scheduled vote on the ordinance Wednesday in Snohomish County.

A girl walks her dog along a path lined with dandelions at Willis D. Tucker Community Park on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Spraying in Willis Tucker Park resurfaces debate over herbicides

Park staff treated about 11,000 square feet with glyphosate and 2,4-D. When applied correctly, staff said they aren’t harmful.

One of Snohomish County PUD’s new smart readers is installed at a single family home Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Mill Creek, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
PUD program seeks to make energy grid smarter for 380K customers

The public utility’s ConnectUp program will update 380,000 electric meters and 23,000 water meters in the next few years.

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

Most Read