- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 9, 2003

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. (AP) — Bishop V. Gene Robinson began his ministry as the Episcopal Church’s first openly homosexual bishop yesterday by saying he wants to bring the message of God’s love to “those on the margins.”

He also said the church should speak out on issues of social justice, including the lack of access to health care for many Americans.

“How dare we in this country spend $87 billion on war when 44 million people have no health insurance?” he asked in his sermon.

After the service at All Saints Church, where he married the wife whom he abandoned to pursue a homosexual lifestyle, Bishop Robinson said he hopes that people who disagree with his confirmation will remain within the Episcopal Church, instead of breaking away.

“A church founded on unhappiness and anger is not going to go very far,” he said.

New Hampshire’s Episcopalians elected Bishop Robinson as bishop in June, and his selection was approved at the convention of the Episcopal Church USA in August. But his consecration a week ago has threatened to divide the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism.

On Nov. 3, overseas bishops who represent 50 million of the world’s 77 million Anglicans jointly announced they were in a “state of impaired communion” with the Episcopal Church — a step short of declaring a full schism.

In addition, conservatives within the U.S. church have asked the archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the Anglican Church, to authorize a separate Anglican province for them in North America.

In his sermon, Bishop Robinson said Jesus spent most of his time with women, tax collectors and foreigners, not with the rabbis and wealthy members of the temple.

Jesus “looked at the religious establishment of his day and realized they had closed their eyes to those on the margins,” he said.

“Think of all the kinds of blindness right outside this door: not seeing people in need, or turning the other way when we do,” he said.

Elsewhere in the state, about half the members of the Episcopal parish in Rochester walked out of Sunday services to protest the dismissal of their interim minister, who opposes Bishop Robinson’s appointment.

Bishop Douglas Theuner, who remains in charge of the Diocese of New Hampshire until his retirement in March, removed the Rev. Donald Wilson on Friday for insubordination when Mr. Wilson refused to come to Concord to meet with Bishop Theuner on the matter.

Bishop Theuner “decided to take our priest away from us and didn’t even ask us,” said Lisa Ball, a member of the group that left.

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