Gay Episcopal bishop officially starts job
March 09 2004 12:00 AM ET
Seven months after his confirmation rocked the world's Anglican community, Gene Robinson officially became the ninth bishop of New Hampshire and the first openly gay bishop in the church's history. In his sermon Sunday during the investiture ceremony, Robinson said one definition of leadership is to find a parade and get in front of it. Robinson said he is just trying to stay in front of the parade and not get run over. "Journeys of faith, you know, are a risky business," he said. "God is always calling us out of our comfort zones."
The investiture ceremony does not carry the same weight as Robinson's consecration last year, but it gave a capacity crowd of more than 700 the chance to welcome the new leader of the diocese of New Hampshire with whoops, cheers, and a standing ovation. Bells rang out from the church tower.
Bishop Douglas Theuner, who officially retired Sunday, handed Robinson the ceremonial staff, transferring the diocese into his hands. They had shared power since Robinson was made a bishop. "May the Lord stir up in you the flame of holy charity and the power of faith that overcomes the world," the Reverend David Jones, rector of St. Paul's Church in Concord, said in the ceremony.
Robinson is the first openly gay man to be elected as a bishop in the U.S. Episcopal Church as well as the worldwide Anglican Communion, with 77 million members, of which it is a part. His consecration drew protesters and triggered angry responses from many corners of the world. Several Anglican bishops outside the United States have said they will no longer associate with the Episcopal Church (USA) because it approved Robinson's election.
In the United States, a dozen conservative bishops are organizing an alternative network of dioceses and parishes in opposition to Robinson's becoming bishop. They argue that homosexuality violates biblical teaching. Robinson has lived with his partner, Mark Andrew, a state administrator, for 15 years and has two daughters from a previous marriage. Andrew took part in the ceremony.
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