Episcopal rector resigns over gay bishop

BY admin

August 22 2003 11:00 PM ET

An Episcopal rector in Cheyenne, Wyo., is resigning because of the recent confirmation of an openly gay bishop. The Reverend H. W. "Skip" Reeves Jr., rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, announced his decision in a letter to parishioners. He is also resigning as chairman of the church's Commission on Ministry and its Committee on Evangelism and as a member of its Diocesan Council. "It's the hardest thing in my life," Reeves said. "I'm not trying to lead any band or parade or anything like that. It's just a personal action I feel I have to take." Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming bishop Bruce Caldwell could not be reached for comment.

Reeves opposes the confirmation of the first noncelibate gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, the Reverend Gene Robinson of the Diocese of New Hampshire. He also disapproves of a resolution accepting the blessings of same-sex relationships. Both actions were taken during the Episcopal Church's 74th General Convention in Minneapolis that ended August 8. As the person ultimately responsible for education at St. Mark's, Reeves said he felt he would be forced to teach and support views with which he disagrees. He has been a minister 34 years, including the last decade at St.
Mark's.

Reeves said he has spoken to gay parishioners and accepts their explanation that they cannot recall a time when they were not attracted to members of the same sex. He also said he feels that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice. But, as Reeves wrote in a series of letters to his parishioners, his position on accepting gays in the church changed recently after meeting with four local psychologists. He said he changed his mind after one psychologist told him that pedophiles also report they have never known a time when they were not attracted to little boys or girls. He said he realizes that his position might be offensive to gays. "I still want to have them in the church," he said. "I'm not chasing them out. But I'm not promoting the lifestyle as a healthy Christian lifestyle."

The Reverend Anne Fontaine, who works with St. John's Episcopal Church in Jackson, said most people in her church support Robinson's appointment as bishop and see it as an act of inclusion and honesty. "Whether people leave the church over this or not, I hope not," she said. "I hope the tent is big enough for us to stay together."

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