Gay Episcopal bishop to meet with antigay parishoners

BY admin

June 17 2004 12:00 AM ET

Members of a church in Rochester, N.H., who rebelled against the election of openly gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson will meet with him next week. Several parishioners at the Church of the Redeemer left in protest after Robinson was consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire last year. Others have pushed to have the church removed from his administration. "We don't want to leave the Episcopal Church; we just want to be under the care of different bishop," said Kathy Lewis, treasurer of the church's vestry.

Robinson has said he is willing to allow visiting bishops to provide pastoral care to the congregation, but he said they must accept his leadership of the diocese. He agreed to provide church members with a list of conservative bishops from which they could choose whom he would accept as a visitor to his diocese. But the opposing parishioners want to be clear of Robinson entirely and install another bishop.

The meeting, scheduled for June 23 at 7 p.m., will be an attempt for the two sides to find "common ground" in search of an eventual resolution to a yearlong debate, Lewis said. "Most of us are real tired and would like to move forward with growing the church. We're hoping the two sides can meet and hammer out an agreement that is acceptable to both," Lewis said.

Conservative Episcopalians, who have spoken out against Robinson's leadership, have said they are not against homosexuals; rather, they do not approve of Robinson's leadership because he has not repented for what are, according to their view of scripture, his "sins." Robinson spokesman Mike Barwell said he did not think the meeting would be open to the public or the media, adding that the ultimate decision would up to the vestry.

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