1st Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop Elected

In New Hampshire, Gay Man Elected Episcopal Bishop

Episcopalians in New Hampshire elect an openly gay priest as their next bishop. If confirmed by the church’s national General Convention next month, Rev. V. Gene Robinson will become the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in the country. Hear Raquel Maria Dillon of New Hampshire Public Radio.

Listen with Windows Media Player:  Gay Bishop Elected (transcript after the jump)

National Public Radio (NPR)

June 8, 2003 Sunday

New Hampshire Episcopal diocese elects its first openly gay bishop

ANCHORS: LIANE HANSEN

REPORTERS: RAQUEL MARIA DILLON

Weekend Edition Sunday (1:00 PM ET) – NPR

LENGTH: 619 words

LIANE HANSEN, host: Members of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire elected a new bishop yesterday. His name is Gene Robinson and he will become the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in the country. But as New Hampshire Public Radio’s Raquel Maria Dillon reports, Robinson first must get the consent from the national Episcopalian community next month.

RAQUEL MARIA DILLON reporting: At a Mass in Concord’s St. Paul’s Church yesterday, Episcopal clergy and lay leaders met to pray and to vote.

(Soundbite of church music)

DILLON: They chose from four candidates; the winner needed a simple majority of votes from both the clergy and the lay delegates. Retiring Bishop Doug Theuner read the vote tally.

Bishop DOUG THEUNER: Gene Robinson, 58 in the clerical order, 96 in the…

(Soundbite of cheering)

DILLON: The Reverend Canon Gene Robinson, Bishop Theuner’s assistant of 16 years, joined his boss at the altar. His family also got a standing ovation. His partner, his son-in-law and his two daughters from a previous marriage all had tears in their eyes.

Reverend GENE ROBINSON: You’ll get used to me boo-hooing because I’m just that way. So I’ll get through this even if I cry a little bit. I’ve had a lot of time to pray about this and to consider this, and I accept.

(Soundbite of cheering and applause)

DILLON: But Robinson also acknowledged that his sexual orientation is an affront to conservative factions of the Episcopal Church.

Rev. ROBINSON: The world is hurting out there and the Episcopal Church and the Anglican communion worldwide is divided by lots of things. We will show the world how to be a Christian community. We can get through this, whatever the future will bring, if we keep coming to this altar rail and accepting what God has to give us.

DILLON: The Reverend David Jones, the rector of St. Paul’s Church, says Robinson will make a wonderful bishop.

Reverend DAVID JONES (Director, St. Paul’s Church): I’ve grown a lot in my understanding and acceptance of the ministry of gays and lesbians, a lot of it through the ministry of Gene, who I’ve known for the past 12 years. And I got to tell you, the Spirit works through that man. And so how can I say, ‘God’s not allowed to do that’?

DILLON: Robinson had a home-field advantage over candidates from other dioceses, but Jones says the delegates did not vote to make a political point.

Rev. JONES: I think what happened in here this morning was clearly an exercise in spiritual discernment. Those who want to believe it was political and, you know, that this is the left wing over the right, I can’t change their opinion. But I can tell you, I don’t think that’s true.

DILLON: Jones didn’t have much opportunity to celebrate. A woman was sitting on the stairs in the church’s lobby crying and he went over to comfort her.

(Soundbite of people)

DILLON: Later, while the rest of the delegates ate sandwiches, Susan Cloutman(ph), who goes to the Church of the Redeemer in Rochester, New Hampshire, explained why she was so upset.

Ms. SUSAN CLOUTMAN: I feel that it’s moving away from my interpretation of Scripture. I’m moving. I’m going to go to another church. I love the Episcopal Church and I love the family I have in them, so tomorrow I’ll go to church and sing in the choir and say goodbye.

DILLON: As bishop-elect, Robinson’s name will go before the national leadership of the Episcopal Church at the general convention in July. Both the House of Bishops and the House of Delegates must vote to give their concept before he is consecrated as bishop next year.

For NPR News, I’m Raquel Maria Dillon in Concord, New Hampshire.

HANSEN: It’s 18 minutes past the hour.