'I'm only the `gay bishop' when I leave New Hampshire,'' he says with a laugh. - U2 Feedback

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Old 11-05-2005, 10:33 AM   #1
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'I'm only the `gay bishop' when I leave New Hampshire,'' he says with a laugh.

I have had the pleasure of attending some workshops with him on AIDS in Africa. He is a wonderful human being.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald...g/13078675.htm

[Q] new life -- a busy one -- for gay bishop

Gene Robinson's role as the first openly gay bishop leaves him juggling the needs of his diocese with hundreds of invitations to speak.

By ANNE SAUNDERS

Associated Press Writer


At New York's gay pride parade last spring, marchers and spectators crowded around Bishop V. Gene Robinson for more than three hours. They reached out to touch his hand, cheered, cried and thanked him.

When Robinson was elected the ninth Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire two years ago -- the first openly gay man to hold such a position in the church -- he knew that he and the diocese were making history. But he didn't know how completely it would change his life.

''It sounds soap-operaish to say, but I'm the son of a tobacco sharecropper who didn't live in a house with running water until I was 10 years old. I can't believe I'm here, you know. So I find it very difficult to be anything but grateful,'' he said in a recent interview.

Robinson's new role leaves him juggling the needs of his diocese, which has 48 parishes and about 16,000 members, with hundreds of invitations to speak at national and international gatherings from people who see his election as a historic step for gays and lesbians.

He's talked at colleges, churches and synagogues and received a national award from a gay rights group in Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, the demands on Robinson in New Hampshire are no lighter. For example, driving home from a late church meeting in a snowstorm last winter, Robinson got a call telling him a priest was suicidal. He quickly went back into the storm on a mission that lasted into the wee hours of the next morning.

''The sheer pace of all this is the only really overwhelming thing,'' Robinson said.

At home, his responsibilities include diocesan finances, church meetings and priests with personal and spiritual problems. His desire is to be known as a good bishop, not the gay bishop -- even if it means small sacrifices, like having no time to lose a few pounds as he promised himself.

Decisions often require delicate judgment calls. ''What's the best thing for this congregation, for this priest? Those kind of decisions take a lot out of you,'' he said.

In September, Robinson drove to Plymouth to talk about finances with parish leaders from around New Hampshire. Parishes reported losing some long-term members over the issue of Robinson's homosexuality. But many also reported growth as young families have joined the church. Diocesan officials estimate they're at least even on membership if not slightly ahead.

''The spirit of the people is healthy. Our participation is good. Our attendance has slowly been building back up,'' said the Rev. Chip Robinson (no relation), rector of the Church of Our Savior in Milford. Robinson listened carefully, sometimes tilting his head to one side, sometimes joking gently with the group.

In conversations afterward, few seemed to resent their bishop's role on the international stage. Much more evident was gratitude that Robinson held the meeting in a spot that shortened the trip for those from northern parishes.

''He's doing his job and he's doing it well,'' said Joe Fluet, senior warden at St. John's in Wakefield. ``I'd never dream of telling another diocese how to pick their bishop, and I'm not much interested in what they think about how we chose our bishop.''

Mark Andrew, a state health care administrator and Robinson's partner of 16 years, frequently accompanies Robinson on his visits to churches. ''There he is, he's in a coat and tie, he looks like a decent enough person, he's not in a dress and high heels carrying a purse,'' Robinson jokes. ``We look pretty normal. And people love him!''

By at least one measure, Robinson's elevation has been a boon for the diocese. To his own amazement, Robinson said there's been a threefold increase in the number of applicants for clergy positions in the state. Most of them are not gay, he said.

''They're just young, dynamic clergy that think this is the place to be and we're benefiting from that,'' he said.

On the other hand, one small church in Rochester closed after a majority of its members left because they didn't want Robinson as their bishop. Discontented parishioners from some other congregations in the state also banded together to form a new group.

But such divisions are the exception in New Hampshire, and Robinson clearly is happy to live and work where his sexual orientation doesn't solely define him. He notes with pride a local newspaper story that named him without mentioning that he's gay.

'I'm only the `gay bishop' when I leave New Hampshire,'' he says with a laugh.

Still, he admits the title has had its advantages and said he's amazed that God has called him to this groundbreaking role. He's had unprecedented opportunities to promote the church, to make friends around the world and to help raise money for causes he supports.

''We have lived with . . . verbal abuse and suspicion and downright condemnation for a very long time,'' he notes. But ``because I'm visible, I also get all this incredible support. So it's a balancing act and at the end of the day, this still feels like a blessing.''
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Old 11-05-2005, 11:43 AM   #2
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He certainly fits in with the climate of New England's Episcopal Church, that's for sure. I wish conservatives would remember that he's a human being, first and foremost.

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Old 11-06-2005, 09:24 AM   #3
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He sounds like a wonderful man, he is doing great work
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Old 11-06-2005, 10:08 AM   #4
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Quote:
...one small church in Rochester closed after a majority of its members left because they didn't want Robinson as their bishop. Discontented parishioners from some other congregations in the state also banded together to form a new group.

But such divisions are the exception in New Hampshire, and Robinson clearly is happy to live and work where his sexual orientation doesn't solely define him. He notes with pride a local newspaper story that named him without mentioning that he's gay.

'I'm only the `gay bishop' when I leave New Hampshire,'' he says with a laugh.
This really says a lot about both his idea of leadership, and that of the people who can't get around him being gay. If you want to give someone a reason to "have an agenda," what better way than to go ballistic assuming they do. Clearly he hasn't descended to their level.
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