CONCORD, N.H. – Members of at least two Episcopal churches in the New Hampshire diocese called for a realignment of geographical oversight within the denomination following Sunday’s consecration of the openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson.
Robert Newton, a lay leader at St. Mark’s Church in Ashland said he has spoken to officials in the Diocese of Albany, New York, which is lead by conservative Bishop Daniel Herzog, to oversee their congregation, in place of Robinson.
"They've already agreed to give us that oversight," Newton said.
According to Newton, the majority of the Ashland members want the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who leads the 77 million-member Anglican Communion, to allow churches to affiliate outside of the New Hampshire Diocese.
Members of the Church of Redeemer in Rochester hold a similar view; Kathy Lewis, treasurer of Redeemer Church, also sent a letter to the Diocese of Albany, asking for support and oversight.
According to Lewis, a spokesperson for the Albany diocese advised the church to wait until a new system of oversight is created; most likely, many of the conservative New Hampshire church will fall within Albany’s geographical boundary.
Bishop Douglas Theuner, who will continue his tenure as bishop of New Hampshire until next March, said he and Robison will be happy to fulfill the requests of dissenting congregations.
“We will be happy to meet with any congregation wishing to consider alternative Episcopal pastoral care,” he said during on a commentary, Monday.
While no parishes have formally placed such a request, Newton says the chances are more than likely that his church will soon take leave.
"There definitely looks like there's going to be some realignment,” said Newton.
In other areas, conservative bishops around the world are considering an official split from the liberals. The Archbishop of Canterbury, however, has yet to comment.