Openly gay Episcopal bishop V. Gene Robinson will offer a church that opposes his leadership a list of "very conservative" bishops he would accept as visitors to the diocese.
Robinson, who met with lay leaders and parishioners at the Church of the Redeemer in Rochester, N.H., on Monday night, said he'll take the next two weeks to draw up the list. Visiting bishops would be invited to preside over confirmations and provide other pastoral care, but they must accept Robinson's leadership of the diocese. Leaders at Redeemer would have a say in which bishop is chosen.
The Church of the Redeemer is one of two Episcopal parishes in New Hampshire that have come out against Robinson. Both have voted to affiliate with a new network of conservative churches organized by the American Anglican Council. Robinson succeeded in defusing some of the tensions at Redeemer earlier this year by assigning its congregation a priest who shares their view that homosexuality is a sin.
Monday night's meeting was part of that effort, and Robinson called the private meeting thoughtful, prayerful, and faithful. "I feel we're on our way to repairing the rift," he said. Members of Redeemer say they would accept Robinson if he repented of his "sin." Robinson said he does not feel God is calling him to repent of his 15-year committed and monogamous partnership with another man.
Robinson has said he is willing to allow visiting bishops to provide pastoral care to the congregation but will not cut them loose entirely. That would violate church law, he said. "We still want to remain Episcopalians and within the Episcopal Church, but before that we want to remain faithful to Christ," said Redeemer's senior warden, Jerry DeLemus.
The Reverend Bill Murdoch, recently appointed head of the conservative network's New England Convocation, sat in on the meeting. "The process has begun to see if this particular approach is actually going to work and be successful," he said.