November 03, 2003
Bishop Gene Robinson Installed in Hockey Rink - Protesters were Invited.

An openly gay man can speak for God, the Episcopal Church USA proclaimed Sunday as the Rev. V. Gene Robinson was installed as a bishop of New Hampshire.

The ceremony included an opportunity for objectors to speak. Three protesters spoke for 10 minutes, including a Pennsylvania man who launched into a graphic description of gay sex acts.

The ceremony brought 3,000 supporters to their feet for two minutes of whistling applause at the University of New Hampshire's ice hockey rink turned church-for-a-day.

Robinson, 56, accepted the charge to be an apostle of God, while dozens of approving bishops surrounded him. His male partner of 14 years, his ex-wife and two daughters were at his side.

Minutes after Robinson was consecrated, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams — spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion — said the divisions caused by Robinson's elevation "are a matter of deep regret." And a thoughtful protest from conservatives, already moving toward a break with the Episcopal Church, marked the consecration ceremony.

Two "protest pens" were set up at the arena. One was occupied by about 300 gay-rights supporters, the other by 11 anti-gay activists from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka. The leadership of the conservative American Anglican Council (AAC) gathered 500 Episcopalians and activists of other faiths at an alternative service.

AAC leader Kendall Harmon, Diocese of South Carolina theologian, said he was ashamed to be an Episcopal priest Sunday because Robinson and supporters "are turning their back on God."

"There are faithful, wonderful Christian people for whom this is a moment of great pain and confusion and anger," said Robinson, addressing the dissent. "They must know if they must leave, they will always be welcomed back."

Posted by tstubbs at November 03, 2003 01:00 PM
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