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Bishop’s apologia for gay marriage released this week: The Church of England Newspaper, September 23, 2012, p 6. September 24, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, New Hampshire, The Episcopal Church.
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Scriptural condemnations of homosexuality are cultural constructs that are products of their time, not eternal truths the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire argues in a new book set for release on 18 Sept 2012.

Bishop Robinson made headlines in 2003 when he became the first openly non-celibate gay clergyman consecrated as a bishop in the Anglican Communion. At his diocesan convention last year, he announced he would step down from office at the end of January, 2013.

In his book God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage (Alfred A. Knopf, $24) Bishop Robinson discussed his views on same-sex marriage and cited his own domestic arrangements in support of changing church teachings on marriage.  When he met his partner, Mark, “for the first time, I was able to express my love for someone through my body. … I experienced a wholeness and integration between body and spirit I had only dreamed about. I remember thinking, ‘So this is what all the fuss is about! No wonder people like — and hallow — this!’” he wrote.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 40: May 21, 2012 May 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, ARCIC, Church of England, Church of Ireland, New Hampshire.
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Kevin and George bring news from the Episcopal Church and a General Convention resolution to allow Communion without Baptism. Ireland passes motion 8 during their General Synod despite creative use of Roberts Rules. The Roman Catholic church met with Anglican leaders in Hong Kong for the third time. New Hampshire is going to elect a new Bishop tomorrow. Canon Phil Ashley explains how AMiA Bishops are moving into ACNA and which Canons are helping that transition.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 40: May 21, 2012 May 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, ARCIC, Church of England, Church of Ireland, New Hampshire, The Episcopal Church.
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Kevin and George bring news from the Episcopal Church and a General Convention resolution to allow Communion without Baptism. Ireland passes motion 8 during their General Synod despite creative use of Roberts Rules. The Roman Catholic church met with Anglican leaders in Hong Kong for the third time. New Hampshire is going to elect a new Bishop tomorrow. Canon Phil Ashley explains how AMiA Bishops are moving into ACNA and which Canons are helping that transition.

Has Time printed the worst Anglican article ever?: Get Religion, May 18, 2012. May 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in GAFCON, Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, New Hampshire.
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How Will Anglicans React if New Hampshire Episcopalians Elect Another Gay Bishop?” Time Magazine asks in a 17 May 2012 article printed on its website.

To which this Anglican responds, “Why don’t you ask them?”

Question headlines are often a flag of trouble ahead for an article — a signal that the article will be weak. The question is usually a rhetorical one — the answer is given by the editorial voice of the article. Or it is some sort of “come on” — an exaggerated statement to attract the reader’s attention.

No, this is not the worst Anglican article ever printed. There have been silly Anglican articles, wrong Anglican articles, dumb Anglican articles, partisan/hack job Anglican articles, and egregiously cruel and ignorant Anglican news articles printed over the past few decades, so it is false and unkind of me to say this is the worst Anglican article ever. Nor can the author be blamed for the silly headline, as reporters seldom write their own headlines.

But this article on the forthcoming episcopal election in the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire is a wreck. While the editorial voice of this ill-informed story supports the progressive agenda in the Episcopal Church, it does so by treating the actors in this drama as one dimensional creatures — cartoons who represent issues rather than people whose lives are not exclusively driven by issues in human sexuality.

The lede of this story begins:

In the summer of 1992, an Episcopalian priest in Baltimore officiated at the wedding of two female congregants. Though he had been “careful to obtain all the necessary permissions,” it wasn’t long before the Rev. William Rich found himself on the front page of the Baltimore Sun and at the center of a religious controversy. Rich was criticized by many in the community and church for performing a gay wedding ceremony, but he’s never regretted the move. …

First problem — the claim that Fr. Rich performed a wedding for two women is false. The 1992

Baltimore Sun article reported that a blessing ceremony took place — but also stated this ceremony was not a marriage and should not be construed as being a marriage.

Father Rich, who is a chaplain at Goucher College, says the ceremony he devised at the request of the women involved was not a wedding but “the blessing of two people committed to each other.”

The Bishop of Maryland told the Sun:

Bishop Eastman said he was assured by the priest “that the liturgy in question was not in any sense intended to be a marriage as Christians understand that sacrament.”

“It was meant to be a private event addressing personal, pastoral needs,” the bishop added. “Neither the two women involved nor Father Rich desired to advance a cause or make a public statement of any kind.”

There is a difference between marriage in a church and the blessing of two people in a same-gender relationship. It is a gross error to conflate the two.

The article then transitions into the story that Fr. Rich is one of three candidates standing for election as Bishop of New Hampshire. It reports that he is an “openly gay man” and and notes that delegates to the diocesan electoral convention:

… will cast their vote by secret ballot to choose a replacement for the current bishop, the retiring Gene Robinson, who is also gay. If a second gay man is elected to the post, the selection will likely reverberate through the staunchly conservative arms of the Anglican Communion, a global network of churches to which the Episcopalians belong. It could also widen a fissure in the network that’s been forming for quite some time.

Second problem — the analysis offered here is just plain dumb. Gay and lesbian clergy have stood for election in several dioceses of the Episcopal Church since Gene Robinson was elected in 2003, and one was elected suffragan or assistant bishop in the Diocese of Los Angeles in 2009. The news that a gay clergyman is standing for election as bishop of New Hampshire is hardly shocking to anyone who has any knowledge of the Episcopal Church or the wider Anglican Communion.

The assertion that the election of Fr. Rich would widen a “fissure in the network” is an equally silly statement. The Anglican Communion is not a network of churches but a communion of churches — this is a theological term. The Lutheran World Federation is a network of churches. The Roman Catholic Church is a single church — it would say it is the church. Anglicans like the Orthodox are in between. They see themselves as part of a single catholic church whose members reside in autonomous national churches — one of the battles being waged within the Anglican world is on the nature of this autonomy. Is it absolute or conditional?

To call Anglicans a network of churches implies Time has decided that it backs one side in the dispute — or is an indication of ignorance.

I suspect it is ignorance on Times’ part, as the impending fissure has already happened. Approximately 22 of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion are in some form of impaired communion with the Episcopal Church. This rupture has taken many forms, but the break has already occurred.

(Last October the Episcopal Church’s national office released talking points disputing the figure of 22 of 38 cited by GetReligion’s Mollie Ziegler Hemingway in an article she wrote for the Wall Street Journal. However, a little checking showed the Episcopal Church’s claim to be false.)

The current state of play is of a broken communion. One where some bishops will not attend meetings if other bishops, whom they regard as apostate, are present. A communion where its leaders can no longer worship together as they cannot all receive the Eucharist, Holy Communion, in the same service. As the former primate, (the archbishop or presiding bishop of a province) of the Province of the Southern Cone (the southern half of South America) told me in 2009, the traditionalists do not believe the leaders of the Episcopal Church are “Christians as we understand it.”

The article attempts to place what it thinks might be the impending split in historical context, stating the:

… crack in the Anglican community began to appear about nine years ago when Robinson became the first openly gay (and not celibate) man to be ordained as bishop.

Problem three — The crack has been around for almost 40 years and has been steadily widening. The consecration of Gene Robinson was a significant event, but hardly the first event in the splintering of the Anglican Communion. GetReligion’s tmatt has written extensively on this point and I need not restate the accurate Anglican timeline here.

The language used by this article is biased and ill-informed and full of questionable assumptions and conclusions. The story of Gene Robinson wearing a bullet-proof vest to his consecration is shared. And yes, it is true he wore such a vest. Yet the article does not go further in developing this point and the claims repeated over the years of physical danger. The only clergyman whose murder so far can be laid at the feet of the Anglican wars is Canon Rodney Hunter of Malawi. Popping in the death threat business without context speaks to the lack of knowledge of the subject under review.

Ignorance continues to drive this story to its end. It notes:

It doesn’t look like the issue is dying down, either. Last month, an ultra-conservative Anglican offshoot group, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, held a conference in London to address the gay bishop question.

Problem four — The FCA conference was not held to address the gay bishop question. The FCA seeks to reform and renew the Anglican Communion from within and by doing so, win souls for Christ. It is also laughable to call the FCA an “ultra-conservative Anglican offshoot group” as it leaders represents the majority of members of the Anglican Communion. One might was well say the Diocese of New Hampshire is an “ultra-liberal Anglican offshoot group”.

The article continues with silly statements and assertions about the structure of the Anglican Communion, why Archbishop Rowan Williams announced his retirement, but returns to New Hampshire for its close.

When asked about the potential for controversy if the diocese were to elect another gay bishop, Reverend Adrian Robbins-Cole, the president of the Standing Committee, insisted that the committee only felt excitement about Rich, as well as the other two candidates, Rev. Penelope Maud Bridges, and Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld. “What we really focus on is trying to be guided by God to elect the bishop who we need in New Hampshire and whom we think is going to thrive and grow,” Robbins-Cole says. “That’s our real focus.”

A grammar point here. It should be “the Rev.”, never  “Rev.”

I do feel sorry for Fr. Rich, Time is touting his candidacy in such a vulgar way that it might well trigger a backlash among New Hampshire voters. It also does a disservice to Fr. Rich’s candidacy as it turns him into a one dimensional figure whose only merit is that he is gay. Being classified as a novelty candidate, or a one issue priest, treats him as a token and implies the Diocese of New Hampshire sees only that aspect of his  life and work.

What then can one say about this wreck? It is factually incorrect, ill-informed about the issue, dismissive and disparaging of one side, and condescending towards the other. It asks a question of Anglican conservatives, but goes for answer to a white Australian conservative — when the majority of voices arrayed against the liberal wing of the church are African, Asian and Indian.

This may  not be the worst Anglican article ever written, but it comes close.

First printed in GetReligion.

Massachusett priest re-arrested on new abuse charges: The Church of England Newspaper, July 15, 2011 July 20, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Massachusetts, New Hampshire.
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The Rev. Franklin E. Huntress, Jr.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A priest arrested by Lincolnshire Police in 1994 for child abuse, has been re-arrested in the United States for sex crimes committed in New Hampshire.

Last week Franklin E Huntress, Jr, was arrested at his home in Massachusetts and extradited to neighbouring New Hampshire following his indictment of having twice sexually assaulted a child under the age of 13 in January 1984 and April 1985.

The incidents occurred while Mr Huntress served as rector of St Stephen’s Church in Schuylerville, NY, and took place during a church programme in New Hampshire. In April allegations of child abuse by Mr Huntress were filed with the New York State police, however, the Saratoga Country District Attorney said his office could not pursue criminal charges against the retired priest.

At the time the alleged abuse took place, New York law required that criminal proceedings be brought within five years, or five years after the alleged victim turned 18. The statute of limitations on sex crimes differs in New Hampshire and a grand jury returned an indictment on two counts of abuse committed over 25 years ago against Mr Huntress.

The former clergyman posted a $25,000 bond in New Hampshire and has been released from custody pending trial.

Claims the 77-year-old priest molested a child in 1974 last year prompted an investigation by the Diocese of Massachusetts. During the course of its investigation, the Diocese learned Mr Huntress had been arrested by police for abusing a child in 1994 while service as vicar of St Matthew’s Church in Skegness, Lincs.

No charges were filed as the victim’s family did not want the child to testify in court. However, Church investigators concluded the allegations were true after reading the police report and speaking to the officers involved, said Canon Mally Lloyd, the Bishop of Massachusetts’s assistant.

Confronted with the charges, Mr Huntress resigned his orders, and was formally removed from the priesthood on 11 February by Bishop Thomas Shaw SSJE of Massachusetts.

However, the Director of Communications for the Diocese of Massachusetts told The Church of England Newspaper “there is nothing in the records here indicating that the Diocese of Massachusetts was contacted by either civil or Church authorities in England regarding the 1994 charges there.”

A spokesman for the Diocese of Lincoln confirmed that Mr Huntress “had been arrested and charged in 1994 on accusations of abusing a minor when he was serving in England. However it appeared that these charges were dropped and the detail and the circumstances were unclear.”

Diocesan spokesman Will Harrison stated that “when the request for further information from the Diocese of Massachusetts was received the former Diocese of Lincoln file had been destroyed as part of a previous archive policy.”

Mr Huntress gave permission for the Lincolnshire Police to release their file on his arrest to the Diocese of Massachusetts, Mr Harrison said, adding the Diocese “was then informed that he was removed from the priesthood in the USA and the Diocese therefore notified the national Church authorities in case he moved back to the UK.”

Ordained in 1962, Mr Huntress served parishes in Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire and in the UK. From 1965 to 1967 he served at St Mary’s, Chester, from 1967-1971 at Waltham Abbey in Essex, from 1975 to 1979 at St Gabriel’s Abbey in Leicester, and from 1991 to 1994 at St Matthew’s in Skegness.

Bishop Robinson to retire: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 12, 2010 p 8. November 18, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, New Hampshire.
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The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of New Hampshire has announced his intention to retire, saying the emotional and physical stresses of his episcopate will compel him step down from office on Jan 5, 2013.

In a Nov 6 address to his diocesan synod, Bishop V. Gene Robinson stated the “last seven years have taken their toll on me, my family” and the diocese.

“Death threats, and the now-worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop, have been a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark,” Bishop Robinson told the synod.

Elected by his diocese in 2003, the Episcopal Church’s endorsement of a partnered gay clergyman as Bishop of New Hampshire led to schism within the Communion, the formation of a rival Anglican body in the United States, broken ecumenical relations and the waning of the “bounds of affection” among Anglicans.

A popular figure within the US House of Bishops as well as a high profile media personality, Bishop Robinson stated at the start of his episcopate that his desire was to be a “simple country bishop.”  However, his wish was not granted as his persona as “the gay bishop” overtook his ecclesial duties as the bishop of a small aging New England diocese.

The bishop said he remained “in good health” and added “I continue in my fifth year of sobriety, which has been a total blessing to me.  I continue to treasure my work and ministry with you, and it is a total joy and privilege to serve you and to serve God in this holy collaboration with you.”

Bishop Robinson told the synod that he did not “intend to be a ‘lame duck’,” for the next two years, but hoped to “continue to be fully engaged as your bishop in the remaining time we lead the diocese together.”

The controversial bishop will have served 39 years in the ordained ministry, and will retire three months short of his 66 birthday.  Mandatory retirement in the Episcopal Church is at age 72.

Bishop Robinson’s advice to the Pope: ‘copy the Episcopal Church’: The Church of England Newspaper, May 7, 2010 p 7. May 12, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England Newspaper, New Hampshire, Roman Catholic Church.
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The Rt Rev V Gene Robinson

First Printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire has taken Pope Benedict XVI to task for linking the Roman Catholic Church’s abuse scandal to homosexuality amongst the clergy.

In an open letter published in the Washington Post on May 2, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson told Benedict: “Yours is a problem of abuse, not sexual orientation.”

Bishop Robinson was the first publicly-professed partnered gay priest consecrated as a bishop in the Anglican Communion.  This action in 2003 has led to the break-up of the fellowship of the Anglican Communion, with a majority of provinces severing or declaring some form of impaired relations with the Episcopal Church, or recognizing the break-away Anglican Church in North America as the true Anglican presence in the US.

Bishop Robinson said he did not “presume to instruct” the pope, but offered the “benefit of my experience” in the Episcopal Church as an example of how an institution might put in place mechanisms to eliminate child abuse.

The Pope’s letter to the faithful in Ireland and his meeting in Malta with victims of abuse were a “good start” for the Catholic Church.  “I hope the future will bring more truth-telling, which will make your church a better, safer place,” Bishop Robinson said.

However Bishop Robinson and the Catholic Church do not hold to the same “truths” concerning human sexuality.

The blame for the scandal within the Catholic Church should not be laid “at the feet of gay priests” Bishop Robinson said.  “As a gay man, I know the pain and the verbal and physical violence that can come from the thoroughly debunked myth connecting homosexuality and the abuse of children.”

“Every reputable scientific study shows that homosexuals are no more or less likely to be child abusers than heterosexuals,” Bishop Robinson asserted.

Speaking in response to papers offered in March on Human Sexuality to the US House of Bishops meeting in Texas, Bishop Robinson stated the church should move beyond the stale categories of hetero- and homo-sexuality.  It was time to move beyond speaking of “GLBT” (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered) orientations for there “are so many other letters in the alphabet,” and “there are so many other sexualities to be explored.

Bishop Robinson’s remarks come in response to the statement made last month by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone during a press conference in Chile, which linked the abuse crisis to homosexuality.

“Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relationship between celibacy and pedophilia but many others have demonstrated, I was told recently, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia,” the cardinal said.

“That is the truth, this is the problem,” Cardinal Bertone said.

The abuse scandal has spawned an outpouring of editorial opinion in the US press against the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict, with New York Times syndicated columnist Maureen Dowd accusing Benedict of moral complicity in the crimes.

“The sin-crazed “Rottweiler” was so consumed with sexual mores — issuing constant instructions on chastity, contraception, abortion — that he didn’t make time for curbing sexual abuse by priests who were supposed to pray with, not prey on, their young charges,” she said.

Catholic loyalists have responded robustly to the charges in the religious press and the Wall Street Journal, taking to task the New York Times and other liberal newspapers for sloppy reporting and anti-Catholic bias.

However, the former Bishop of Newark, Jack Spong, dismissed the charge of media bias as “face-saving defensiveness” by the church’s supporters.

What bias there was in the press was a righteous indignation “against a systematic cover-up on every level of the Catholic hierarchy.”

“It is not an anti-Catholic bias but a universal revulsion against this behavior across the world that finds expression in media coverage,” Bishop Spong wrote in a syndicated column, arguing that for the Catholic Church to “pretend that they are somehow the victims of an anti-Catholic bias in the media is simply one more aspect of their unwillingness to see the depth of the problem.”

GC Anaheim:the Bishop of New Hampshire and the Dean of Cape Town July 9, 2009

Posted by geoconger in 76th General Convention, Anglican Album (Photos), Anglican Church of Southern Africa, New Hampshire.
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The Very Rev. Rowan Smith, Dean of St George's Cathedral in Cape Town presenting a stole to the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson during the luncheon break of the 76th General Convention on July 8, in Anaheim, California.

The Very Rev. Rowan Smith, Dean of St George's Cathedral in Cape Town presenting a stole to the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson during the luncheon break of the 76th General Convention on July 8, in Anaheim, California.

‘Disappearing bishop’ to return: CEN 1.20.09 January 20, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, New Hampshire, Politics.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Barack Obama’s disappearing bishop will reappear on Jan 20, the Presidential Inaugural Committee said in a statement issued Monday, and an edited version of Bishop Gene Robinson’s invocation given at the start of the inaugural festivities on Sunday will be played on “jumbotron” viewers for crowds gathering for the inauguration.

Amidst considerable partisan hoopla the New Hampshire bishop was chosen to give an invocation at the start of the “We are One” concert at the Lincoln Memorial—the opening event for the president’s inauguration which would be broadcast live across the United States on the cable television channel HBO.

However, the live broadcast of the concert did not begin until after Bishop Robinson’s prayer was concluded, while many of those in attendance could not hear the bishop as the public address system was not working properly. In an interview with National Public Radio on Jan 19, Bishop Robinson said he did not know why his invocation was scheduled for 2:25 pm Eastern Time while the concert broadcast was scheduled to commence at 2:30 pm.

Conservative political and religious pundits enjoyed a rare moment of schadenfreude at the New Hampshire bishop’s expense. “God still has a sense of humor,” one pundit noted, while a magazine editor likening the sound and screen blackout of the publicity minded bishop to the lightning strike on York Minster after Bishop David Jenkins’ consecration.

Gay activists were incensed by the slight, however, with bloggers positing a host of reasons for the bishop’s disappearance from the airwaves. However the leader of the Episcopal Church’s gay lobby group, Integrity, the Rev. Susan Russell put a brave face on the farce. “Any disappointment that Bishop Robinson’s powerful opening prayer was not part of the HBO broadcast pales in comparison to the power of his iconic presence at the Lincoln Memorial on this historic occasion,” she said.

Technical glitches were blamed for the sound black out at the Lincoln Memorial, while a schedule mishap was blamed for Bishop Robinson’s absence from the broadcast. On Monday, the Presidential Inaugural Committee took responsibility for the “omission”.

“We regret the error in executing this plan ¬ but are gratified that hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the mall heard his eloquent prayer for our nation that was a fitting start to our event,” Josh Earnest, a spokesman for the inaugural committee, was quoted as saying.

HBO said that it hopes to include the disappearing bishop in future re-broadcasts of the concert. However, the version available for instant viewing on HBO.com does not carry the invocation.

Inauguration concert cuts Bishop’s comments: CEN 1.19.09 January 19, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, New Hampshire, Politics.
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First published in the Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

The Bishop of New Hampshire disappeared from America’s television screens on Sunday as the live broadcast of President-elect Barack Obama’s inaugural festivities omitted the opening prayers of Bishop Gene Robinson.

A long time supporter and active campaigner for President-elect Obama Bishop Robinson had been invited by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to give a prayer at the inaugural concert. The invitation came after activists protested Obama’s selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at the president’s swearing in ceremony.

The slight of Bishop Robinson—whether accidental or deliberate—will likely enrage those on the left unhappy with the Obama team’s move to the political center. Gay activists had charged the Obama campaign with treachery for having solicited their support during the election, but dumping them once victory was in hand. The selection of Rick Warren was especially galling as the California Baptist had been a vocal supporter of Proposition 8—the state initiative that overturned the California Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage.

HBO, a cable network owned by Time-Warner Communications, had been given exclusive broadcast rights to the “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial”, the Opening Celebration for the 56th Presidential Inaugural held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

HBO said it would be broadcasting the “event that evening on an open signal, working with all of its distributors to allow Americans across the country” with cable television the opportunity “to join in the Opening Celebration for free.”

The cable network’s press statement said the “Opening Celebration will be a declaration of common purpose and new beginnings. The Sunday afternoon performance will be grounded in history and brought to life with entertainment that relates to the themes that shaped Barack Obama’s campaign and which will be the hallmarks of his administration.”

Calls to HBO’s media office asking why the New Hampshire cleric’s invocation was omitted from the broadcast were not returned as of our going to press. However, complaints from gay activists to HBO over the disappearance of Bishop Robinson were answered with an email saying a technical “glitch” was at fault.

HBO’s glitch was not the only failure that afternoon, as at least one of the large speaker towers at the Lincoln Memorial was turned off for Bishop Robinson’s prayer, prompting chants of “we can’t hear you” from the crowd.

Concert goers reported that while Bishop Robinson could be seen on the “Jumbotron” viewer, he could not be heard by the crowd—estimated at 750,000 by organizers. One person present told CEN that the HBO logo did not appear on the jumbotron until after Bishop Robinson’s prayer was concluded—apparently indicating the prayer as a pre-concert event.

Those close to the front of the podium, including a reporter for Christianity Today, reported the sound system was working around the stage—and privately recorded videos of the invocation were taken, showing that Bishop Robinson did indeed appear that day.

The text of the prayer released by the Bishop’s office reads:

“O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will bless us with tears – tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless this nation with anger – anger at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort at the easy, simplistic answers we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be fixed anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility, open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance, replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

Bless us with compassion and generosity, remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable.

And God, we give you thanks for your child, Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, inspire him with President Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for all people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our ship of state needs a steady, calm captain.

Give him stirring words; We will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking far too much of this one. We implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand, that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity, and peace.


Obama invites Gene Robinson to pray at Inaugural Celebration: CEN 1.16.09 p 5. January 16, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, New Hampshire, Politics.
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Barack Obama has moved to blunt criticism from gay activists that he had abandoned their cause once he secured his election as President by inviting the ‘gay’ Bishop of New Hampshire to give an invocation at the start of a musical concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Jan 18.

On Jan 12 the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced that the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson would give an invocation at the start of “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.”

The selection of Bishop Robinson to offer a prayer at one of the outlying events of the inauguration follows the Jan 10 announcement by the Obama team that the leader of the Disciples of Christ, a liberal-leaning denomination with approximately 690,000 members in the United States and Canada, the Rev. Sharon Watkins, had been chosen to preach at the National Prayer Service on Jan 21 at the Washington National Cathedral.

President-elect Obama had come under harsh criticism from gay activists for selecting the Rev Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration ceremony on Jan 20. When the Warren announcement was made last month, Bishop Robinson told the New York Times the news had come as a slap in the face, adding that the God [Mr. Warren is] praying to is not the God that I know.”

In an email posted to an Episcopal Church related blog called The Lead, Bishop Robinson said it would be “an enormous honor to offer prayers for the country and the new president.” Bishop Robinson will offer a brief prayer at the start of a televised two-hour concert featuring performances by hip-hop, R&B, rock, pop and country music starts including Bono, Garth Brooks, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, John Mellencamp, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, and James Taylor and dramatic readings by actors Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington.

“I am humbled and overjoyed at this invitation, and it will be my great honor to be there representing the Episcopal Church, the people of New Hampshire, and all of us in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community,” Bishop Robinson said.

A vocal supporter of Senator Obama during the election campaign, on Sept 4 the New Hampshire bishop released a letter calling for Lesbian Gay Bi-Sexual and Transgender voters “put our differences and disappointments aside, and get behind [Barack Obama as] the one candidate who has our interests at heart.”

In an interview with the Boston Globe last year, Bishop Robinson acknowledged his close identification with the “gay movement” in the United States. “As much as I wanted to be known as the good bishop, and not the gay bishop, there’s no escaping,” he said, adding that he would “love just to be a simple country bishop, but that just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.”

Reactions to the Robinson’s invitation by President Obama in the US press have focused more on the President-elect’s skills at populating the pulpits at the various inaugural events with a conservative white Baptist minister, an African American minister active in the Civil Rights movement, a woman minister from a liberal denomination, and the gay bishop of New Hampshire. While rewarding church leaders from his political base with peripheral spots at the inauguration, political analysts view Obama’s choice of the influential conservative Rick Warren to take center stage as a pragmatic move towards America’s political and cultural center.

However, Catholic League president Bill Donohue said the selection of Bishop Robinson was offensive to traditionalist Roman Catholic voters.

“President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to unite Americans, and yet he chooses the most polarizing person in the Episcopal Church, Bishop Gene Robinson, to offer a prayer at one of his inaugural events,” Mr. Donohue said calling the New Hampshire bishop “an embarrassment to rank-and-file Episcopalians” and an anti-Catholic bigot.

The two-hour concert will feature performances by a cross-section of hip-hop, R&B, rock, pop and country music starts including Bono, Garth Brooks, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, John Mellencamp, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, and James Taylor and dramatic readings by actors Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington.

Gene Robinson breaks ranks and backs Barack Obama for president: CEN 9.12.08 p 6. September 13, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, New Hampshire, Politics.
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The Bishop of New Hampshire has broken with tradition and endorsed a candidate for political office. In a letter published on “LGBT for Obama,” a website that states it serves as the “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community’s online campaign to educate voters on John McCain’s anti-gay policies” Bishop Gene Robinson called on all LGBT voters to “put our differences and disappointments aside, and get behind the one candidate who has our interests at heart.”

On Sept 4 Bishop Robinson wrote LGBT voters were “faced with the most stark choice in recent memory, with ramifications for our community like no other. If nothing else convinces you to vote for Barack Obama, surely the likelihood of the next president appointing one, two, or possibly even three Supreme Court justices should do it.”

While endorsing specific issues and or programmes is not uncommon, lending the support of the episcopal office to a single candidate is uncommon. It also skirts US tax laws, as clergy or church endorsements are prohibited by a 1954 amendment to the Internal Revenue Code. Nonprofit, tax-exempt entities may not “participate in, or intervene in . . . any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.”

Past challenges to the law have so far failed, with the Courts holding that while clergy are free to speak out on religious, moral and political issues they cannot use tax-exempt resources to support or oppose candidates for public office, which includes statements from the pulpit by church officials and other indications of campaign intervention.

In May of 2000, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously held that the IRS properly revoked the tax exemption of the Church at Pierce Creek, a congregation near Binghamton, N.Y., that bought newspaper ads in 1992 opposing presidential candidate Bill Clinton.

Bishop Robinson said that the election of John McCain would lead to the packing of the US Supreme Court with justices that would rule against the recognition of gay marriages. “With Barack Obama, we have someone who is utterly sympathetic to our full and equal rights as citizens.”

He added that while Senator Obama “won’t say he’s for equal marriage rights” Bishop Robinson knew from his “own private conversations with him that he is totally in our court. I believe him, and I trust him, not to throw us under the bus when the election is over.”

Lambeth rocked as Archbishop calls on Robinson to resign: CEN 7.22.08 July 22, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Lambeth 2008, New Hampshire.
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The Bishop of New Hampshire must resign in order to save the Anglican Communion from chaos, the Archbishop of Juba and Primate of the Sudan, said today. “If [Gene Robinson] were a real Christian he would resign” Archbishop Daniel Deng said on July 22.

In a statement released on the second day of the Lambeth Conference, the Sudanese church called upon the American church to “respect the authority of the Bible,” refrain from ordaining gay priests or bishops, halt gay blessings, and “cease court actions” against traditionalists “with immediate effect.”

The American church’s experiments with gay blessings and bishops had led to the deaths of Sudanese Christians, the Dr. Daniel Deng said in an impromptu press conference in the Lambeth Conference media room.

Because of the actions of the American church, “we are called infidels in the Islamic world when they hear of the same-sex blessings,” he said. “It will give [Islamist militants] reason to kill” Sudanese Christians he said.

Dr. Deng’s statement, backed by over 150 bishops from 17 Global South provinces presents a significant blow to Dr. Rowan Williams’ hopes of averting a crisis at the 14th Lambeth Conference. The American church has been on its best behavior at Lambeth, seeking to mollify criticism from the wider Communion and preserve its place in the Church.

However, the Sudanese Archbishop, Dr. Daniel Deng said there was “already a breakdown of the Anglican Communion.” To prevent its wholesale collapse, “Gene Robinson should resign.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Archbishop urged to reconsider issuing a Lambeth invite to Gene Robinson: CEN 6.13.08 p 6. June 13, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Lambeth 2008, New Hampshire.
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THE DIOCESE of New Hampshire has urged the Archbishop of Canterbury to reconsider his ban on Bishop Gene Robinson attending the Lambeth Conference, saying his inclusion would be a sign that Anglicanism welcomes all people.

In a May 29 letter, the diocesan standing committee and council said they “vehemently protest” Dr Rowan Williams’ decision to exclude Bishop Robinson from Lambeth and his ban on the New Hampshire bishop’s preaching or officiating while in England.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Diocese in plea for gay bishop

Gay bishop ‘has not been banned,’ says Lambeth: CEN 5.09.08 p 6. May 11, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Lambeth 2008, New Hampshire.
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The Bishop of New Hampshire has not been banned in Britain, a spokesman for the Archbishop of Canterbury tells The Church of England Newspaper, denying press speculation Bishop Gene Robinson had been muzzled by Dr. Rowan Williams from preaching in England.

On May 2, Lambeth Palace confirmed Bishop Robinson was not granted a license to officiate—to celebrate the Eucharist and other sacramental acts. However it was an exaggeration to say he had been banned from preaching as canon law does not permit the archbishop to ban preachers, his spokesman said.

On April 29 Bishop Robinson told the congregation at St Mary’s Putney that he had received an email from Dr. Williams that morning refusing his request to officiate and preach in the Province of Canterbury. The following day, the Episcopal News Service reported that Archbishop Williams would not permit Bishop Robinson “to preach or preside at a Eucharist while he is in England, according to reports.”

In Britain to promote his new book, “In the eye of the storm: Swept to the center by God,” Bishop Robinson told the BBC’s Hardtalk programme “in the past “[Dr. Williams] has … declined to give me permission to preach and to celebrate the Holy Communion and I would never do so without his permission.”

Under Canon C17.6 “by statute law it belongs to the archbishop to give permission to officiate within his province to any minister who has been ordained” by an “overseas” province. However, Canon B18.2 gives the authority of determining who may preach to the parish incumbent—with the permission of the diocesan bishop.

Bishop Robinson had sought permission to officiate in the past and Dr. Williams had declined to accede to that request, the spokesman said. Bishop Robinson had again broached the topic, seeking permission to officiate this summer and had also sought Dr. Williams’ endorsement to preach.

Dr. Williams again declined to license him, and had given “no endorsement for any of the invitations [Bishop Robinson] has received” to preach, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Press Secretary the Rev. Jonathan Jennings said.

Lambeth Palace press officer Marie Papworth told CEN copies of the correspondence would not be made public as it was the Archbishop’s policy not to disclose the contents of private communications.

The Archbishop of York’s press secretary, the Rev. Canon Arun Arora, stated he was unaware of any request from Bishop Robinson to officiate in the Province of York. Bishop Robinson did not respond to our request for clarification.

No Pulpit Ban for Bishop Robinson: TLC 5.02.08 May 2, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth 2008, Living Church, New Hampshire.
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First published in The Living Church.

Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire has not been banned from pulpits in the Church of England according to a spokesman for the Archbishop of Canterbury, who denied press speculation that the Archbishop Rowan Williams was attempting to silence Bishop Robinson.

A press officer confirmed on May 2 that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams had not issued Bishop Robinson a license to officiate in the Province of Canterbury. However, Church of England canon law does not grant the archbishop the authority to ban preachers, the spokesman noted.

While traveling in Britain to promote his book, Bishop Robinson told the BBC “in the past [Archbishop Williams] has… declined to give me permission to preach and to celebrate the Holy Communion and I would never do so without his permission.” Episcopal News Service reported April 30 that Archbishop Williams would not permit Bishop Robinson “to preach or preside at a Eucharist while he is in England, according to reports.”

Under the Church of England’s Canon C17.6 “by statute law it belongs to the archbishop to give permission to officiate within his province to any minister who has been ordained” by an “overseas” province of the Anglican Communion. All visiting clergy who seek to perform the sacraments within the Province of Canterbury must secure the permission of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The same rules apply for the Province of York in the northern part of England. But another canon gives the authority to preach to a parish incumbent, with the permission of the diocesan bishop.

Bishop Robinson has sought permission to officiate in the past and Archbishop Williams has declined to accede to the request, the spokesman said. Bishop Robinson broached the topic again in a letter to Archbishop Williams, seeking permission to officiate in the province this summer and seeking his endorsement to preach. Archbishop Williams again declined to license Bishop Robinson to officiate, and had given “no endorsement for any of the invitations [Bishop Robinson] has received” to preach, said the Rev. Jonathan Jennings, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s press secretary.

The Rev. Arun Arora, director of communications for the Archbishop of York, said he was unaware of any request from Bishop Robinson to officiate in the Province of York.

Gene Robinson will be a blushing ‘June Bride’ : CEN 12.21.07 December 21, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, New Hampshire.
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THE BISHOP of New Hampshire has announced that he will marry his same-sex partner next year in a civil ceremony followed by a church blessing.

“I always wanted to be a June bride,” Bishop Gene Robinson told an audience at a Florida law school during a lecture series on Sex, Morality and Law.

“It may take many years for religious institutions to add their blessing for same-sex marriages and no church, mosque or synagogue should be forced to do so. But that should not slow down progress for the full civil right to marry,” Bishop Robinson said.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Gene Robinson will be a ‘blushing June Bride’

Robinson woos the Far East: CEN 11.02.07 p 6. November 4, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Lambeth 2008, New Hampshire.
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THE BISHOP of New Hampshire has begun a tour of the Far East designed to gain the support of the Pacific Anglican Churches for his quest to be extended an invitation to the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

In an Oct 20 speech at Hong Kong’s City University entitled, ‘Grace under fire-securing justice for sexual minorities,’ Bishop V Gene Robinson said his consecration was a ‘remarkable experiment’ by the American Church in diversity and pluralism.

“In this global village, while we have different experiences and histories, how are we going to live together?” he asked.

The challenge to the Anglican Communion was not the innovation in doctrine and discipline his consecration represented, but the pursuit of tolerance.  The challenge to the church was whether it could “hold different opinions about certain hot issues without killing each other, without disrespecting each other? Can we actually stay in communion with each other while we have different opinions?” he said.

“If we can work it out, wouldn’t it be a great thing to teach the world?” Bishop Robinson suggested.

In an Oct 9 open letter to the American Church’s gay community, Bishop Robinson said the Episcopal Church would not halt its drive for the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church.

The ACC Primates joint standing committee had ‘misunderstood us’ when it reported the US House of Bishops had ‘declared a moratorium on all such public Rites’ of same-sex blessings, he said.

Church is hypocritical: CEN 8.03.07 p 6. August 2, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, New Hampshire.
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The Church of England would collapse were it not for the work of its gay clergy, the Bishop of New Hampshire said last week in a London interview.

Speaking to Scottish freelance journalist Andrew Collier, The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson said he was disturbed by the hypocrisy of the Church of England in not acknowledging or supporting its gay clergy.

“I think the thing that is the most mystifying to me and the most troubling about the Church of England is its refusal to be honest about just how many gay clergy it has – many of them partnered and many of them living in rectories,” Bishop Robinson said.

“I have met so many gay partnered clergy here and it is so troubling to hear them tell me that their bishop comes to their house for dinner, knows fully about their relationship, is wonderfully supportive but has also said if this ever becomes public then I’m your worst enemy,” he said.

Bishop Robinson called upon the Church of England to admit the gay issue was “not an American problem and just an American challenge. If all the gay people stayed away from church on a given Sunday the Church of England would be close to shut down between its organists, its clergy, its wardens.”

The controversial bishop, whose consecration has “torn the fabric” of the Church according to the Anglican Communion’s primates, said he had received a warm welcome in Britain, but was not permitted to function as a bishop.

“I have received huge support from the Church of England both from the clergy and from the pews. Hardly a day goes by never mind a week that I don’t receive encouraging words of support,” he said.

However, in a private meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, he was told by Dr. Williams he could not “function liturgically or to preach” while in the Province of Canterbury.

Bishop Robinson said it was unlikely the Episcopal Church would conform to the Primates’ demand that it cease ordaining or consecrating gay clergy. The Episcopal Church had been ordaining gay clergy for many years, he said, asserting that the trouble only arose with his consecration in 2003.

He claimed the mantle of Evangelical, noting “as a matter of fact I’m more evangelical than almost anyone you would run into in the Episcopal Church.”

“When I speak to gay and lesbian groups I don’t talk to them about gay rights, I talk to them about their souls. My goal is to get them to church and bring them to Jesus,” he asserted.

No Invite for Gene Robinson, yet: CEN 7.06.07 p 7. July 6, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Lambeth 2008, New Hampshire.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury’s office has released a statement denying press reports that there has been any change in the status of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson’s invitation to the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

On June 29, Lambeth Palace released a statement saying The Times ‘ report that “Gene Robinson is to be invited to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church next summer,” was inaccurate.

“It should be noted that there is no change to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision not to invite the Bishop of New Hampshire to the conference as a participating bishop. It is still being explored whether Bishop Robinson might attend in another status but no invitation has been issued,” the Archbishop’s office said.

The Times reported that a member of the Dr. Williams’ staff had responded to queries about Bishop Robinson writing that he was aware of “the level of disappointment expressed by correspondents, following his decision not to extend an invitation to Bishop Gene Robinson to attend the Lambeth Conference along with the other bishops.”

The letter restated Dr. Williams’ reasons for not inviting Bishop Robinson, and had balanced the “widespread concern” felt by many in the Communion with “the position of Bishop Robinson within The Episcopal Church.”

“The Archbishop is therefore exploring inviting Bishop Robinson to the conference in another status,” the letter concluded.

A spokesman told The Church of England Newspaper there had been no changes or new actions taken over Bishop Robinson’s invitation to Lambeth since the invitations were extended last month, and urged a halt to speculation.

Senior advisers to Dr. Williams noted the invitation list was not caste in stone, and that it was entirely possible that some bishops who had received invitations, could be dis-invited to the gathering of the Communion’s bishops next summer in Canterbury.

In his letter to the Bishops of May 22, Dr. Williams stated, “with the recommendations of the Windsor Report particularly in mind, I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion.”

Last month US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori sent an email to the US bishops encouraging them to send in their response to the Lambeth invitation. “All bishops who have any inkling that they may wish to attend Lambeth are encouraged to respond positively to their invitation before the end of July,” she wrote.

“Once rejected, it is possible that an invitation would not be re-extended. It is always appropriate, however, to decline at a later date if circumstances – of any sort – make that necessary,” Bishop Schori noted.

Canterbury–No Change to Bishop Robinson’s Lambeth Status: TLC 7.02.07 July 2, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth 2008, Living Church, New Hampshire.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury’s office has released a statement on the status of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson’s invitation to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, saying “there is no change to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision not to invite the Bishop of New Hampshire to the conference as a participating bishop.”

Last week a British daily newspaper reported that a member of the archbishop’s staff had informed several concerned clergy members of the Church of England by letter that Bishop Robinson would be attending.

Read it all in The Living Church.

Comment at TitusOneNine.

Robinson Gives Go-Ahead for Same-Sex Blessings: CEN 6.15.07 p 7. June 15, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, New Hampshire, Windsor Report.
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The Bishop of New Hampshire has given his clergy permission to bless same-sex unions. Speaking to the press on May 31 following the signing of a state law in New Hampshire establishing gay civil unions, Bishop Gene Robinson stated he would not compel his clergy to conduct gay blessings, but would leave it up to each priest’s conscience.

“That authority belongs to them and I would not in any way ask them not to do that. … Just like in marriages, every priest will have the option to bless or not to bless,” he said.

Gay civil unions are “not a radical departure,” Bishop Robinson said, according to the Associated Press. “This is a real confirmation of what New Hampshire has always been about: the freedom of its own citizens and fairness for everyone.”

The law will take effect in January 2008. Five states currently permit gay civil unions or domestic partnerships under law, with New Hampshire and two other states having adopted legislation that comes into force this coming year. Bishop Robinson stated he and his partner will take advantage of the new law and enter a civil union.

Paragraph 144 of the Windsor Report requested The Episcopal Church enact a moratorium on public same-sex blessing rites, and recommended “bishops who have authorised such rites in the United States and Canada be invited to express regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection were breached by such authorisation. Pending such expression of regret, we recommend that such bishops be invited to consider in all conscience whether they should withdraw themselves from representative functions in the Anglican Communion.”

On March 15, 2005 the US House of Bishops pledged to honor the Windsor Report’s request, stating “we pledge not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, and we will not bless any such unions, at least until the General Convention of 2006.”

The Episcopal Church’s 2006 General Convention did not respond to this request of the Windsor Report.

TWO US Bishops Not Invited to Lambeth: CEN 5.25.07 p1. May 25, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Lambeth 2008, New Hampshire, Zimbabwe.
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Gene Robinson is not coming to Lambeth. The New Hampshire bishop, CANA Bishop Martyn Minns and Bishop Chuck Murphy of the AMiA and his suffragans will not receive invitations to the July 16 to Aug 4 gathering in Canterbury of the bishops of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon, the secretary of the 2008 Lambeth Conference said on May 22.

Invitations to the 2008 conference have been mailed to over 800 bishops by the Conference’s host, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams. Invitations to two other diocesan bishops, including the controversial Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, have been held pending further “consultation,” said Canon Kearon, the ACC secretary general.

Dr. Williams is “seeking further advice” on inviting Dr. Kunonga, Canon Kearon told The Church of England Newspaper but noted his case and that of “one or two others” had “nothing to do with the Windsor process.” In 2002 the EU banned Dr. Kunonga from travel to Europe in response to his complicity with the crimes of the regime of Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe.

A spokesman for the ACC noted Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti of Recife would not be invited either. In 2005 Bishop Cavalcanti and 32 of his clergy were deposed by the Primate of Brazil for contumacy. They and over 90 percent of the communicants in the diocese transferred to the jurisdiction of the Province of the Southern Cone under the jurisdiction of Archbishop Gregory Venables.

In a letter accompanying the invitation, Dr. Williams stated he hoped the meeting would be “a place where we can try and get more clarity about the limits of our diversity and the means of deepening our Communion, so we can speak together with conviction and clarity to the world.”

He noted that Lambeth would not be “a formal Synod or Council of the bishops of the Communion” nor does attending the Conference commit a bishop to accept “the position of others as necessarily a legitimate expression of Anglican doctrine and discipline, or to any action that would compromise your conscience or the integrity of your local church.”

Dr. Williams said he had reserved the right “to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion.”

Canon Kearon stated there was “no question that Gene Robinson had been duly elected and consecrated” Bishop of New Hampshire in 2005. However, paragraph 133 of the Windsor Report recommends the Archbishop “exercise very considerable caution in inviting or admitting him to the councils of the Communion,” he said.

The “archbishop recognizes the widespread objections in many parts of the communion to [Bishop Robinson’s] consecration and to his ministry,” said Canon Kearon. However, the “Archbishop intends to explore the possibility of inviting [Bishop Robinson] to Lambeth as a guest or observer,” he added.

The Bishops of the Anglican Mission in America would not be invited to Lambeth because of the decision taken by Archbishop George Carey in 2000. Archbishop Carey “wrote to them saying he could not recognize their ministry” and that their “consecrations were irregular,” Canon Kearon explained. This decision was “confirmed at Oporto” by the Primates in 2000 and the “decision was already fixed” by Dr. Williams’ predecessor.

The case of CANA Bishop Martyn Minns exhibits “no difference” from the AMiA and he falls into the same category, Canon Kearon said.

Dr. Williams has been under intense pressure to act upon the Lambeth invitations. While the Conference has no juridical powers, it is seen as the symbolic center of Anglican identity—and the arbiter of who is and is not an Anglican. The Primate of Canada, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison urged Dr. Williams to postpone Lambeth to forestall the political confrontation expected.

A number of American and British bishops had suggested they may boycott Lambeth should Bishop Robinson not be invited. However, on May 15 the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez told The Church of England Newspaper the Global South Primates had written to Dr. Williams saying that if Bishop Robinson were invited to Lambeth, the Global South bishops would not attend.

Consecrating and Attending Bishops – an UPDATED list November 26, 2003

Posted by geoconger in Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Living Church, New Hampshire.
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Here are my research notes prepared for The Living Church magazine published by Forward in Faith: the list of those bishops who participated in the consecration of V. Gene Robinson.

43 Bishops participated in the service.

2 others are listed as participating but have not yet been confirmed as present:
William G. Burrill, Rochester (ret)
Clarence Hobgood, Suffragan – Armed forces (ret)

At this point I think the list is complete

Chief Consecrator:
Frank Griswold, PB


Edmond Browning, PB (ret)
Herbert A. Donovan, Jr, Arkansas (ret)
A. Theodore Eastman, Maryland (ret)
Barbara Harris, Suffragan – Massachusetts (ret)
Chilton A.R. Knudsen, Maine
Krister Stendahl, Stockholm (ret), Church of Sweden


Douglas E. Theuner, New Hampshire

Others: (e.g., vested, laid hands on VGR)

Craig Anderson, South Dakota (ret)
G. P. Mellick Belshaw, New Jersey (ret)
Otis Charles, Utah (ret)
Steven Charleston, Alaska (ret)
Jane H. Dixon, Suffragan – Washington, DC (ret)
Donald P. Hart, Hawaii (ret)
Harold A. Hopkins, Jr. ND (ret)
George N. Hunt III, RI (ret)
Edward W. Jones, Indianapolis (ret)
H. Coleman McGehee, Jr., Michigan (ret)
Walter C. Righter, Iowa (ret)
Hays H. Rockwell, Missouri (ret)
Bennett J. Sims, Atlanta (ret)
Philip A. Smith, NH (ret)
Arthur Walmsley, CT (ret)
O’Kelly Whitaker, CNY (ret)
R. Stewart Wood Jr., Michigan (ret)


Martin Barahona, El Salvador
Michael Ingham, New Westminster, Canada
Bruce Stavert, Quebec, Canada


Joe Burnett, Nebraska.
John B. Chane, Washington, D.C.
George Counsell, New Jersey
James J. Jelinek, Minnesota
Thomas C. Ely, Vermont
James A. Kelsey, N Michigan
Jack M. McKelvey, Rochester
M Thomas Shaw, Massachusetts
Andrew D. Smith, Connecticut
Orris G. Walker, Jr. Long Island


Roy Cederholm, Suffragan – Massachusetts
James Curry, Suffragan – Connecticut
Gayle Harris, Suffragan – Massachusetts
Wilfredo Ramos-Orench, Suffragan – Connecticut.
Catherine Roskam, Suffragan – New York.

Swift Movement Against Dissenters in New Hampshire: TLC 11.15.03 November 15, 2003

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, New Hampshire.
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First printed in The Living Church magazine.

Supporters of two dissenting congregations in the Diocese of New Hampshire point to two recent incidents as evidence that differing theological views may not be tolerated in practice locally.

Two-thirds of the congregation of the Church of the Redeemer in Rochester walked out of a Sunday service Nov. 9 in protest over the firing of their 72-year-old priest-in-charge, the Rev. Don Wilson, earlier that week. Right before the sermon, Jacqueline Ellwood and Ginger Carbaugh stood up, read a statement of protest to the bishop’s representative, the Rev. Canon Marthe Dyner, and walked out of the building, but not before a brief tussle with Canon Dyner, who snatched the letter from one of the protestors. They were followed in their departure by about 40 members of the congregation.


Fr. Wilson told The Living Church he had been summoned to the diocesan office Oct. 25 to discuss parish business. The agenda quickly changed, he said, and the Rt. Rev. Douglas Theuner, Bishop of New Hampshire, began to berate him for his previous opposition to the consecration of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson as bishop coadjutor. Fr. Wilson stated he was not leaving the Episcopal Church nor would he oppose visitations by Bishop Robinson, but he would not affirm the consecration to suit the bishop. The priest said Bishop Theuner chastised Fr. Wilson, reminding him that he was not a rector but a priest-in-charge. The bishop instructed Fr. Wilson to have the wardens lead a special parish meeting Oct. 26, called to discuss the Robinson consecration.

After Fr. Wilson said he would rather stay home and not attend the parish meeting, if he could not conduct it as priest-in-charge, Bishop Theuner instructed him to attend and be silent, adding that representatives from the diocese would monitor the proceedings. At the meeting members of the congregation voted 18-5 in protest to the Robinson consecration. Observers from the diocese, led by Canon Dyner, voided 18 absentee ballots. All 18 absentee ballots were cast in opposition to Bishop Robinson. The following week Bishop Theuner’s secretary telephoned Fr. Wilson to schedule a second meeting.

“I said I didn’t want to go to Concord and asked to meet in Rochester instead,” Fr. Wilson said. For refusing to agree to a second meeting in Concord, Fr. Wilson said he was summarily charged with “insubordination” and removed from his cure.

The confrontation between Canon Dyner and the parishioners at Redeemer follows a similar contretemps between Canon Dyner and members of St Mark’s, Ashland, over the American Anglican Council. Meredith Harwood, of Orford, N.H., said she attended a gathering of 30 New Hampshire Episcopalians and five clergy on Oct. 16 in a private home to discuss forming an AAC chapter. Canon Dyner insisted on joining the gathering and began to take notes of the conversation.

“We asked her to leave for a half hour, telling her it was a private meeting,” Mrs. Harwood said. “She refused, saying she wouldn’t leave unless the owner of the property asked her to leave. Canon Dyner told us, ‘It was not appropriate for a private organization to ask me to leave’.”

Canon Dyner said she attended the meeting in “a private capacity” and was there “to listen and learn.”

Accounts differ as to what words were exchanged. Canon Dyner said she could not remember any specific comments, but denied Mrs. Harwood’s charge that she told the gathering “You have no place to go” as she left the meeting.

“Bishop Theuner’s actions represent an act of war against a small church of 100,” commented AAC president the Rev. Canon David Anderson, who called upon Bishop Theuner to restore Fr. Wilson’s license. Bishop Robinson did not respond to a request for comments.

Historic day in New Hampshire: TLC 11.10.03 November 10, 2003

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, New Hampshire.
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First printed in The Living Church magazine.

Months of suspense, speculation and widely divergent predictions about the future of the Christianity reached a climax in Durham, N.H. Nov. 2 with the consecration and ordination of the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire.

Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold was the chief consecrator in a three-hour ceremony at the Whittemore Hockey Center on the campus of the University of New Hampshire before a congregation estimated at about 3,000. Almost immediately following the consecration primates from 20 of the 37 international provinces of the Anglican Communion said they would not recognize the ordination of a non-celibate homosexual person to the episcopacy and therefore a state of impaired communion existed between their provinces and the Episcopal Church.

In a fiery sermon that highlighted the current divisions, the Rt. Rev Douglas Theuner, soon to retire as Bishop of New Hampshire, compared the current discord over the morality of homosexual conduct to past arguments over slavery, divorce and remarriage. These arguments then were “about control, about power, about who is in and who is out, about who is right and who is wrong,” as were the current arguments that seek to deny a place in the Church to the outcast and marginalized, he said. The consecration of Gene Robinson, Bishop Theuner argued, was not a hindrance toward unity, but a mark of its fullness. Addressing his words to Bishop-elect Robinson, Bishop Theuner said, “Because of your presence, the episcopate will be more a symbol of unity than it ever has been.”

Numerous heavily armed police and additional security personnel were an unmistakable presence throughout the campus, and consecration planners took numerous precautions, which included restricting most protesters from campus property. Three formal objections did occur during the presentation of testimonials: the Rev. Earle Fox of Alexandria, Va., Meredith Harwood, of Orford, N.H., and the Rt. Rev David Bena, Bishop Suffragan of Albany. Bishop Bena, who spoke last, read a prepared statement endorsed by 36 other bishops from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada asking Bishop Griswold not to “put the future of the Communion in jeopardy.”

Bishop Griswold, who momentarily appeared flustered when Fr. Fox began with a graphic description of sex between men, interrupted during the reading of the first objection and asked the reader to make his point. After the last objection was read, Bishop Griswold thanked “our brothers and sisters in Christ for bringing their concerns before us” but noted the stated concerns already had been addressed.

The primates, Bishop Griswold said, believe that unity of doctrine is subsidiary to the desire for unity. The primates, he said, “register the deep sense upon them that the highest level of communion be maintained.” He added that the primates recognize that truth is not universal. It is specific to time, place and culture. “As Anglicans we are learning to live with the mystery of union at a much deeper level, below the level of civility; understanding one another’s contexts, one’s struggles to articulate the gospel in different places. I think that is precisely what we are doing here and therefore we shall proceed,” he concluded.

Addressing the congregation before the exchange of the Peace, Bishop Robinson sounded an optimistic note, thanking those present for their support while acknowledging the discord his consecration would cause. “There are people, faithful, wonderful Christian people, for whom this is a moment of great pain and confusion and anger,” he said. “Our God will be served if we are hospitable and loving and caring toward them in every way we possibly can muster.”

Primates – ‘A crucial and critical point’: TLC 10.13.03 October 13, 2003

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Living Church, New Hampshire, Primates Meeting 2003, The Episcopal Church.
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First printed in The Living Church magazine.

Following two days of highly anticipated and lengthy sessions at Lambeth Palace in London, the primates of the Anglican Communion emerged from the tightly secured venue to announce that the Episcopal Church will not face immediate discipline for its controversial General Convention votes on human sexuality last summer. That possibility remains, according to a final unanimous statement released after the meeting which indicated that if the consecration of a non-celibate homosexual person as Bishop of New Hampshire proceeded as scheduled Nov. 2 “we recognize that we have reached a crucial and critical point in the life of the Anglican Communion and we have had to conclude that the future of the Communion itself will be put in jeopardy.”

Cloistered behind the medieval battlements of Lambeth Palace, the primates met Oct. 15-16 in the most important pan-Anglican gathering since the first Lambeth Conference of 1867. And like that first Lambeth Conference, called by the Archbishop of Canterbury in response to a crisis of faith and order occasioned by a bishop, John Colenso of Natal, South Africa, the Primates came to London to decide what to do about a bishop whose election has unleashed theological and doctrinal divisions that may destroy the Anglican Communion.

The affirmation of the election of the Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire by the 74th General Convention on Aug. 5 and the formal acknowledgement that same-sex blessings are occurring, without disciplinary consequences, in some dioceses has brought the Anglican Communion to the brink of collapse. Prior to the meeting a majority of primates, comprised of most of the Southern Hemisphere, appeared to favor a firm line against the Episcopal Church, with some calling for discipline and even expulsion. Other primates, particularly among those from industrialized countries, have stressed the importance of respecting geographical boundaries and questioned whether the Communion is empowered with disciplinary authority.

The meeting reportedly did not begin well for the Global South coalition when the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, suggested opening with the Holy Eucharist. The Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria and the primatial spokesperson for the Global South coalition, said he and the others were not in communion with the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, and would not participate if the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church did. Archbishop Williams suggested that if all did not take part in the Eucharist, there would be no meeting. The Eucharist proceeded. Weaknesses in the coalition became further evident when the meeting opened officially and each primate was separately given about 10 minutes to expound on the theological and practical reasons why communion had been jeopardized between the Episcopal Church and his province.

When the expositions were mostly completed, the Primate of Ireland, the Most Rev. Robert Robin Eames, was made available around 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon for a brief, unplanned press conference at which he announced that there was unanimous consensus that the Communion was worth preserving and that he had never attended or been involved in a meeting at which “such openness, frankness and honesty” had been expressed. The primates continued to meet while Archbishop Eames conducted the press conference and the meeting on Wednesday did not conclude until after 9 p.m. The meeting ran longer than anticipated the following day as well.

If the theological argument in favor of discipline was weakened by participation in the Eucharist and the individual testimonies, the legal argument that the Anglican Communion was organizationally capable of administering discipline to an errant province was terminated by the Archbishop of Canterbury before it got started when he said he lacked the canonical and ecclesiastical tools to apply discipline at present.

That issue will be addressed thoughtfully based on the primates’ final statement which unanimously called on Archbishop Williams to establish a commission “to consider his [the Archbishop of Canterbury’s] own role in maintaining communion within and between provinces when grave difficulties arise.” The statement goes on to specify that the commission include “urgent and deep theological and legal reflection on the way in which the dangers we have identified at this meeting will have to be addressed.” That part of the commission’s work is requested within 12 months.

“It is clear that recent controversies have opened debates within the life of our Communion which will not be resolved until there has been a lengthy process of prayer, reflection and substantial work in and alongside the commission which we have recommended.”

Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome of the meeting prior to its start and expressed gratitude for the primates’ work at the conclusion. Bishop Duncan, along with Bishops John W. Howe of Central Florida, Jack Iker of Fort Worth, and Daniel Herzog of Albany presented the case for intervention by the primates in the “pastoral emergency” in the American Church to a group of primates, led by Archbishop Akinola, at a private meeting held at St. Paul’s Church, Robert Adam Street, London, on Oct. 14. The Rev. David Roseberry, rector of Christ Church, Plano, Texas, and host of the AAC-sponsored conference in Dallas the previous week, delivered to the gathering of 17 primates the signed declarations from the “A Place to Stand” conference.

Hastily moved to St. Paul’s from All Souls’, Langham Place, after The Times revealed the location of the meeting the previous day, the American delegation of four bishops, and AAC president, the Rev. Canon David Anderson, board member the Rev. Canon Martyn Minns, rector of Truro parish, Fairfax, Va., and advisor Professor Christopher Seitz of St Andrew’s University, Scotland, along with representatives of the Anglican Mainstream, a group of English evangelicals formed during the Jeffrey John affair, discussed the consequences of inaction by the primates. Should the primates fail to admonish or discipline the American Church, the AAC said, traditionalist dioceses and parishes would see tremendous losses in membership and financial support as people abandoned the Episcopal Church over the “apostasy” and “heresy” espoused by General Convention.

The primates gathered at St Paul’s told the AAC that they supported the call for reform and renewal of the Episcopal Church. The Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Rev. Drexel Gomez, the AAC was told, had met privately with Archbishop Williams that morning, and had shared with him the five-point plan prepared at a meeting of primates Sept. 26 in Nairobi. Archbishop Gomez reported, in the words of one of the participants, that Archbishop Williams “has given signals that he is on our side.” A second participant in the meeting told The Living Church that Archbishop Williams had agreed to at least “75 percent of what we wanted, and there may be a further 20 percent that is do-able.”

‘Godly Admonition’ Sought

Based upon two studies, “To Mend the Net” and “True Union,” the five-point plan would first call for the affirmation of the 1998 Lambeth Conference statement on human sexuality. It would also seek a formal declaration that the Episcopal Church and the Canadian Diocese of New Westminster had violated Church teaching as summarized in the Lambeth declaration. The primates would issue a “godly admonition” coupled with a call to repentance given to the American Church and Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster. If they did not recant their errors and persisted in following a course of conduct and teaching contrary to the mind of the wider Church, disciplinary measures would be taken. The American Church and New Westminster would be expelled from the Anglican Communion and a new reformed ecclesial body would be reconstituted in North America in communion with Canterbury and the Anglican Communion.

Following the meeting, Bishop Herzog said the primates unequivocally supported four of their five points, with the fifth — discipline — still a possibility in the future.

The Rev. Michael Hopkins, rector of St. George’s, Glenn Dale, Md., and past president of Integrity, said the primates’ final statement was one with which gay and lesbian Episcopalians could live, particularly given some of the statements prior to its start.