CONCORD, N.H. – Against the heartfelt pleas of Anglicans worldwide, the Episcopal Church USA – the US branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, officiated its first openly gay bishop through an investiture “ceremony,” March 7, 2004. Although Sunday’s investiture did not carry the same weight as Robinson’s consecration in November, it threw yet another blow to the face of those Anglicans who wished to abide by the scriptures, and imposed yet another obstacle to the possibility of a united Anglican front.
Since November, when the openly gay Gene Robinson was ordained, he shared power with Bishop Douglas Theuner in New Hampshire. This Sunday, Theuner handed the ceremonial staff that transferred the diocese into Robinson’s hands, and then stepped down to retire.
The 600 pro-gay supporters who gathered at St. Paul’s sanctuary in New Hampshire galvanized the event with whistles, shouts and a standing ovation, calling it a “family time for the diocese.”
"May the Lord stir up in you the flame of holy charity and the power of faith that overcomes the world," the Rev. David Jones, rector of St. Paul's, said in the ceremony.
However, conservative Anglicans across the nation and the world were once again torn apart by the diocese’s barefaced disregard of the scriptures.
In last week’s gathering of the Anglican Archbishops at the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates, the rejection of Robinson’s ordination was deeply felt as the leader of the 20 million Nigerian Anglicans refused to attend any conference alongside the leader of the ECUSA.
"Archbishop Akinola is baffled that the Anglican Communion Office (ACO) continues to act as if what ECUSA did does not really matter," said Oluranti Odubogun, the General Secretary of the Church of Nigeria, who also re-affirmed earlier statements from the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) that condemned the US Church for Bishop Robinson's consecration. "By carrying out the consecration of Bishop Robinson ECUSA has 'removed itself from the fellowship of the Communion.'"
In total, 13 of 38 worldwide diocese severed ties with the ECUSA for having consecrated Robinson.
Within the United States, a dozen conservative bishops began organizing a separate network of Anglicans that object to Robinson’s lifestyle. Robinson, who says he would get “married” to his male partner “in a minute” is a divorcee with 2 children.
Robinson’s reflection on the event was expressed by two sentences he uttered at a CBS’s “60 minutes” interview Sunday night.
"We've always had gay bishops. All I'm doing is being honest about it."
However, his consecration is stirring up great opposition, even within his own diocese. Two churches, Church of the Redeemer in Rochester and St. Mark's in Ashland have voted to affiliate with the new network of conservative churches that reject the notion of a gay bishop.