THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH, USA
ACTIVITIES RELATED TO THE CONSECRATION OF BISHOP-ELECT ROBINSON
The story up to 2003-OCT:
Rev. Robinson was elected bishop by clergy
and laity in New Hampshire in 2003-JUN. The election
was confirmed by the General Convention of the Episcopal
Church, USA in 2003-AUG. Conservatives in the denomination are
threatening to leave and/or create a separate
Anglican church in the U.S.
Events related to bishop-elect Robinson's consecration:
||2003-OCT-20: Beliefs of bishop-elect Robinson: The Weekly
Telegraph, a British Newspaper, reported that bishop-elect Robinson "...is
agonising over the turmoil his election is causing but believes God wants
him to go forward." He said: "This is one of the hardest things
I'll ever do...I do have this sense I'm supposed to go forward, and I do
feel that's coming from God and not my own ego."
||2003-OCT-21: Consecration appears on track: The Associated
Press published an interview with bishop-elect Gene Robinson. He said:
"God and I have been about this for quite a while now, and I would be
really surprised if God were to want me to stop now." His consecration
is scheduled for Sunday, NOV-2. Rev. Michael Hopkins, the past president
of the GLBT Episcopal organization, Integrity, expects protests,
but said: "I'm confident that the consecration is going to happen. I
expect it to be fairly orderly." 2
||2003-OCT-26: Bishop-elect Robinson "can hardly wait:" Rev.
Robinson told the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement's annual
conference in Manchester, UK that he wanted to "get on with God's work".
He said that the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy is "...exactly
what God would have us do: to hold onto one another while we continue to
be in very different places about this. I think that is in the greatest
Anglican tradition...We have to not let the conservatives take this
book [the Bible] away from us. It is our scripture too...I can hardly wait
for November 3 [the day after his consecration] when I will hopefully be
an old news story and I can get on with what I am here to do."
||2003-OCT-27: Bishop-elect Robinson under guard: A British
newspaper, The Weekly Telegraph, reports that "The Anglican Church's
first openly homosexual bishop is under 24-hour protection from the FBI
after receiving death threats from Christian fundamentalists....The
threats are being taken seriously in America because of the growing
militancy of religious extremists." He addressed a conference for
homosexual priests in Manchester, UK, by satellite link from New
Hampshire, during the weekend of OCT-26. He said that there were grave
concerns for his safety. He noted that the precautions were costing: "unbelievable
amounts of money - money we don't have....The standing committee of the
diocese is taking this very seriously, as is the bishop. We are doing what
we need to do to keep me safe so that I can try to keep making the witness
that I am trying to make." He has received over 8,000 E-mails since
his election. Some contained hate messages, including a postcard from
England describing him as a "fornicating lecherous pig". But these
messages were outnumbered by letters and E-mails supporting his position.
He noted that: "There have been all kinds of wonderful messages
from around the world about what this means to people, especially from
those not in cities or churches where it is safe to be who they are....The
fact of the matter is that I am neither the devil one side would take me
to be, nor the saint that others would have me to be....I am trying to
hold on to who I am, as a human being and as a Christian on his own
journey toward God." Commenting on the dilemma faced by the Archbishop
of Canterbury, the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Robinson
said: "I have told him in a letter that I am praying for him and that I
am so very aware of the difficulties that he is in....He is only doing
what he said he would do, which was to sacrifice his personal views [in
favor of homosexual clergy in committed relationships] and seek to hold
the Church together while upholding the official policy of the Church."
||2003-OCT-27: Christian group assesses Robinson's consecration:
The fundamentalist Christian group, Focus on the Family, published
their assessment of Gene Robinson's election as bishop. They said that he
"...is feeling the heat from parishioners upset with his ordination."
They did not mention that most of his incoming E-mails and letters are
supportive. They report that Rev. "Robinson accused major U.S.
conservative donors of 'manipulating' the Episcopal Church. His supporters
claim two church groups opposed to his consecration are heavily funded by
two wealthy families." Diane Knippers, president of the Institute
for Religion and Democracy appeared to confirm this assertion when she
indicated that none of her donors dictate policy. She said: "I think
that the fact that Gene Robinson himself is trying to deflect the
criticism that he's been receiving from leaders representing millions of
Anglicans around the world, is just a sign of the kind of weakness of his
argument." Bruce Mason of the conservative group the American
Anglican Council said that most Anglicans are opposed to the
||2003-NOV-2: NH: Gene Robinson's consecrated as
The consecration ritual started at 4 PM on NOV-2, at a
university sports arena in Manchester, NH. 5
About 4,000 people -- including 47 bishops -- participated. Police
patrolled the area outside the arena, where some protesters were present.
Some of the latter held up signs stating: "Homosexual: Abomination to
God; Lev[iticus] 18 Lev 20," "Stop
perversion. No Dean or Robinson Communion," and "God burned Sodom
and Gomorrah; Genesis 19." From the Reuters
news photos, the protestors looked quite grim and angry.
During the ritual, the presiding Bishop Frank Griswold asked the congregation if there is "any
reason why we should not proceed." Assistant Bishop David Bena of
Albany, NY, stated that he was speaking for 38 opposing bishops of the
Episcopal Church and some in the Anglican Church of Canada. He
said that they and most of the bishops in the rest of the worldwide
Anglican Communion will not recognize Robinson as a fellow bishop.
Author's note: This is not an unprecedented
development, because there are some dioceses in the Communion which still
refuse to ordain women as priests, or allow females to be consecrated as
bishops or do not recognize the legitimacy of female priests' ordinations
and bishops' consecrations.
Bena said that Robinson's "chosen
lifestyle is incompatible with Scripture and the teaching of this church."
It was not clear whether his use of the term "lifestyle" referred
to Robinson's sexual orientation, or his decision to enter into a
committed relationship with another man. Rev. Earle Fox of the Pittsburgh
diocese then objected. However, when he began citing specifics of same-sex
behavior, Griswold politely asked him "Please spare us the details and
come to the substance." The protests in the arena lasted a total of
about ten minutes. The two complaining clergy left the arena. Griswold
then asked those present whether Robinson should be consecrated as bishop.
The congregation chanted loudly: "This is our will.
With a voice trembling with emotion, Robinson said that he felt deeply
honored. He urged compassion toward church members who were angered and
upset by his consecration.
The American Anglican Council issued a statement: "Today is a
grievous day in the history of our Church. Heresy has been held up as
holy. Blasphemy has been redefined as blessing....Holy Scripture has been
abandoned and sin celebrated over sanctification. Our family is now split
and the whole cloth of the Anglican communion is torn."
Minutes after the ritual, the leader of the Anglican Communion, Rowan
Williams, said that: "The divisions that are arising are a matter of
deep regret; they will be all too visible in the fact that it will not be
possible for Gene Robinson's ministry as a bishop to be accepted in every
province in the communion...It is clear that those who have consecrated
Gene Robinson have acted in good faith...But the effects of this upon the
ministry and witness of the overwhelming majority of Anglicans
particularly in the non-Western world have to be confronted with honesty."
"God urging me on," says gay bishop," Weekly
Telegraph, UK, 2003-OCT-20, at:
Christopher Curtis, "Episcopal official won't resign after all,"
PlanetOut, 2003-OCT-22, at:
Jonathan Petre, "Gay bishop kept under 24-hour FBI guard,"
Weekly Telegraph, UK, 2003-OCT-27, at:
Keith Peters, "Homosexual Cleric Condemns Opponents," Focus on
the Family, 2003-OCT-27, at:
Grace Episcopal Church has a web site with an E-mail address
and link to an area map at:
- Richard Ostling, "Consecration of cleric ignites controversy and
protest: The new gay bishop. Move threatens to split Anglican church
worldwide," Associated Press, The Toronto Star, 2003-NOV-3, Page A1 & A3.
Copyright © 2003 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2006-JUN-10
Author: B.A. Robinson