Gay US bishop meets with Rowan Williams - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
November 4, 2005

Gay US bishop meets with Rowan Williams

-04/11/05

Gene Robinson, the gay bishop of New Hampshire whose consecration two years ago caused a convulsion in the worldwide Anglican Communion, yesterday had an hour-long meeting in London with the Archbishop of Canterbury at the start of a four-day visit to Britain.

It comes ahead of a conference next week, sponsored by Ekklesia, which will look at the future of gay and lesbian people in the Church.

During the meeting, officially described by Lambeth Palace as friendly but candid, Dr Rowan Williams and Bishop Robinson discussed the crisis and also prayed together.

Bishop Robinson, who was elected to head the diocese of New Hampshire in 2003 even though he lives with his male partner, told the Guardian yesterday he was not ashamed of his sexual orientation and believed he had no reason for repentence, as conservatives across the world have demanded. "It is not something of which I should repent and I have no intention of doing so," he said. "I have been led to understand that I am loved by God just as I am. That is not to say I am perfect but it is my belief that my orientation is value-neutral. It is what I do with my relationship that God really cares about.

"It has taken me the better part of 40 years to come to terms with all that. It was God that changed my heart about coming to accept myself. It was a very hard-won fight. I would be crazy to turn my back on that now."

The bishop was last night taking part in a debate at the Oxford Union and over the weekend will attend services in London and Manchester commemorating the 10th anniversary of the moderate gay church pressure group Changing Attitudes.

He was given permission to attend the events by the archbishop and by the diocesan bishops of London, Oxford and Manchester. But, although he can robe and wear his mitre, he has been told he may not officiate or preach at any of the services, though he will address them afterwards. Even this has been too much for some conservatives, who unsuccessfully lobbied the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, to try to stop Bishop Robinson even entering a church during his visit.

Bishop Robinson said: "I think it is unusually cautious on the archbishop's part but I understand the delicacies of the situation. I am not here to disrupt or fly in the face of what is going on. I want to be helpful, and if not preaching or celebrating is the price, then I am happy to comply." He described the archbishop as having been cordial and gracious during their meeting.

Dr Williams, although personally sympathetic on the plight of homosexuals in the clergy and liberal in his attitudes, has stuck to the church's position that gay clergy should remain celibate. Lambeth Palace said the meeting had been part of his commitment to listening to the voices of all concerned.

Bishop Robinson insisted his consecration had not damaged the US Episcopal Church in New Hampshire, and said it had gained members while losing only one parish. "We are quite a happy group. We may be the only diocese in the Anglican communion that is not talking about homosexuality. It is settled for the people of New Hampshire," he said.

"We worship a living God, not one locked up in the Scripture of 2,000 years ago. Certainly we have lost a few people, but we also have a lot coming back to the church and are gaining people who have never been part of our worship. A lot of young Roman Catholic families have joined. They like our inclusive community. I hope the Anglican Communion will continue to hold on to one another."

Gay US bishop meets with Rowan Williams

-04/11/05

Gene Robinson, the gay bishop of New Hampshire whose consecration two years ago caused a convulsion in the worldwide Anglican Communion, yesterday had an hour-long meeting in London with the Archbishop of Canterbury at the start of a four-day visit to Britain.

It comes ahead of a conference next week, sponsored by Ekklesia, which will look at the future of gay and lesbian people in the Church.

During the meeting, officially described by Lambeth Palace as friendly but candid, Dr Rowan Williams and Bishop Robinson discussed the crisis and also prayed together.

Bishop Robinson, who was elected to head the diocese of New Hampshire in 2003 even though he lives with his male partner, told the Guardian yesterday he was not ashamed of his sexual orientation and believed he had no reason for repentence, as conservatives across the world have demanded. "It is not something of which I should repent and I have no intention of doing so," he said. "I have been led to understand that I am loved by God just as I am. That is not to say I am perfect but it is my belief that my orientation is value-neutral. It is what I do with my relationship that God really cares about.

"It has taken me the better part of 40 years to come to terms with all that. It was God that changed my heart about coming to accept myself. It was a very hard-won fight. I would be crazy to turn my back on that now."

The bishop was last night taking part in a debate at the Oxford Union and over the weekend will attend services in London and Manchester commemorating the 10th anniversary of the moderate gay church pressure group Changing Attitudes.

He was given permission to attend the events by the archbishop and by the diocesan bishops of London, Oxford and Manchester. But, although he can robe and wear his mitre, he has been told he may not officiate or preach at any of the services, though he will address them afterwards. Even this has been too much for some conservatives, who unsuccessfully lobbied the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, to try to stop Bishop Robinson even entering a church during his visit.

Bishop Robinson said: "I think it is unusually cautious on the archbishop's part but I understand the delicacies of the situation. I am not here to disrupt or fly in the face of what is going on. I want to be helpful, and if not preaching or celebrating is the price, then I am happy to comply." He described the archbishop as having been cordial and gracious during their meeting.

Dr Williams, although personally sympathetic on the plight of homosexuals in the clergy and liberal in his attitudes, has stuck to the church's position that gay clergy should remain celibate. Lambeth Palace said the meeting had been part of his commitment to listening to the voices of all concerned.

Bishop Robinson insisted his consecration had not damaged the US Episcopal Church in New Hampshire, and said it had gained members while losing only one parish. "We are quite a happy group. We may be the only diocese in the Anglican communion that is not talking about homosexuality. It is settled for the people of New Hampshire," he said.

"We worship a living God, not one locked up in the Scripture of 2,000 years ago. Certainly we have lost a few people, but we also have a lot coming back to the church and are gaining people who have never been part of our worship. A lot of young Roman Catholic families have joined. They like our inclusive community. I hope the Anglican Communion will continue to hold on to one another."

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