Friday, November 16, 2012

Trailblazing Bishop Retires, Shares Blessings with Nation

by the Rev. Caroline J.A. Hall, president of Integrity USA

We will always need trailblazers – people who go out first and do something that has never been done before, and then live with the scars to prove it. Bishop Gene Robinson has been a trailblazer for the LGBTQ community – the one who was willing and who was chosen by the Church and the Holy Spirit to go out ahead and be the first openly gay bishop. Our lives have been changed by his ministry and leadership.

Bishop Robinson with
parishioner Kevin Therrien
When Bishop Gene was elected and confirmed in 2003, it brought to an ugly head the deep differences that were growing in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. It was not his becoming bishop that created rifts and even schisms – his charism was to bring to the light of day the crisis that was already well underway. His willingness to talk to the media, and to keep talking, brought the country and the Communion a new understanding that people of faith can be gay and that God welcomes us. Along the way Bishop Gene suffered isolation, ostracism and death threats.

Now he is about to retire as Bishop of New Hampshire after 26 years working in the leadership of the diocese.  In February he will become a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, in Washington, DC – a think tank founded in 2003 by former Clinton chief-of-staff John Podesta.  Bishop Gene’s new role will be “to bring a moral, religious voice to the issues that face us as a nation:  immigration reform, healthcare reform, poverty in America and the world, the growing divide between rich and poor, as well as ongoing efforts to include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the life of the nation and in the communities of the church, synagogue and mosque.” Bishop Gene says, “It will be my challenge and privilege to try to provide that moral voice.” You can read his message to his diocese here.

Integrity USA is deeply grateful for the leadership that Bishop Gene has provided in our work for full inclusion and for his willingness to embody that inclusion even at great personal cost. If you would like to make a donation in honor of Bishop Gene, the Diocese of New Hampshire is setting up an endowment fund to continue work in the chaplaincy program at The New Hampshire Prison for Women in which Bishop Robinson did ministry while Bishop of New Hampshire. You can contribute here.

Thank you, Bishop Gene, for all you have given us. We look forward to seeing the blessings that come from your new ministry.

British-born Caroline "Caro" J. Addington Hall serves as President of Integrity USA and is Priest in Charge of St. Benedict's, Los Osos, California. Her book A Thorn in the Flesh: How Gay Sexuality is Changing the Episcopal Church will be published in the late Spring of 2013.

No comments: