Bishop Gene Robinson and Windsor Report
- Bishop at Centre felt 'sad and lonely' upon release of Windsor Report
Document, he says, offers 'a way forward'
SOLANGE DE SANTIS, staff writer
Anglican Journal News
Oct. 28, 2004 - On Oct. 18, the day the Windsor Report was released,
Anglicans heard many voices reacting to it -- from those in favor of a
church that fully includes homosexual members to those who believe
homosexuality is a grave sin.
But a representative of the man at the centre of the controversy
-- Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire -- turned away all requests
for interviews, statements, television and radio appearances,
explaining that Bishop Robinson would be reading and reflecting on the
report and meeting with members of his diocese.
The report recommended ways Anglican churches worldwide can
continue in unity, even as they disagree about matters like
liberalizing attitudes toward gay people. (See related story at
Several days later, in a telephone interview with the Anglican
Journal, Bishop Robinson said his initial reaction to the report was
different from his feeling about it later on. "(At first), when I got
to the part asking for a moratorium on the election of gay and lesbian
folk to the episcopate, it made me feel very sad and somewhat lonely.
I'd hoped I wouldn't have to live too much longer as the only 'gay and
lesbian' bishop," he said. The report will, he believes, "have a
chilling effect on dioceses' ability to elect a gay or lesbian person
However, five hours later, he said, he met with clergy and lay
leaders in the diocese and was "surrounded with love and support about
how we are going about being the church in New Hampshire."
He came to feel "very positive" about the report, he said. "It is
respectful of all members of the church, a full range of viewpoints.
It offers a way forward for us to stay in communion while we fight on
these issues and we find unanimity in Jesus Christ," he said.
The report also "calls upon everyone to re-examine what they've
done in light of what has happened," Bishop Robinson said. However, he
said he does feel there is "one real deficiency." The document is
"very careful to detail the pain (felt by conservatives) with respect
to my consecration, but there is not a word about the pain gay and
lesbian people have experienced at the hands of the church," he said.
The omission was not malicious, he believes, but "just didn't occur to
anyone and that is the price you pay when you have no gay or lesbian
people on the commission."
He said he does get asked by journalists about whether he plans to
resign but he has no intention of doing so. "The Windsor Report did
not call for me to step down and did not call for the Episcopal Church
to repent or change its action, only to express regret. That is
something I can wholeheartedly and genuinely do. We need to find lots
of ways and lots of venues to make those expressions," he said.
(The Anglican church in the United States is called the Episcopal
church and is a member of the Anglican Communion.)
Meanwhile, life in the diocese of New Hampshire goes on. "I go
into congregations large and tiny and in every case, my partner and I
are welcomed. He is introduced as the bishop's partner as if we've
been doing this for years. Our churches are growing. We are getting
tons of people coming back to the church. We have Roman Catholic
families coming in," he said.
One parish, Church of the Redeemer in Manchester, split over
Bishop Robinson's election and consecration, with about 45
parishioners joining a local Baptist church and 30 remaining at
Redeemer. "(The dissidents) wanted a fight rather than a
conversation," said Bishop Robinson, noting that he had offered them
alternate episcopal oversight, but reserved the right to visit the
congregation once every three years. Overall, the church in New
Hampshire "wants to model an inclusive church," he said.