Members of some evangelical, Baptist, and United Church of Christ churches plan to support Episcopalians protesting the consecration of the Reverend V. Gene Robinson, scheduled to take place Sunday at the University of New Hampshire's Whittemore Center arena. Robinson will become the church's first openly gay Episcopal bishop. Durham Evangelical Church, located two miles from Whittemore Center, will be used by the protesters for an alternative Episcopal service to be held during Robinson's consecration.
"What one wing of Christendom does always affects the rest of the church," the Reverend Terry Sharbaugh of Durham Evangelical Church told the Concord [N.H.] Monitor. "The majority of Christian churches do not believe in what is about to happen." Sharbaugh said he expects all 400 seats at his church to be taken for the service, which is being led by the Reverend Canon Kendall Harmon of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. "We want to be able to provide a supportive context for people who are in pretty deep grief for what is happening," Harmon said. "This is a very, very decisive moment in the history of Christianity." While the alternative Episcopal service is being held inside the church, a group of evangelicals, including Sharbaugh, will hold a prayer meeting outside in support.
Meanwhile, a variety of groups will protest outside Whittemore Center. The Reverend David Runnion-Bareford of Canada will lead a candlelight vigil. Runnion-Bareford is director of the national Biblical Witness Fellowship, a conservative movement within the United Church of Christ. Runnion-Bareford said his vigil will be low-key; he is asking participants to bring candles and a "humble spirit" but no signs.