The Right Reverend KATHARINE
August 5, 2003
To the people of Nevada:
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church today consented to the
election of The Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson as bishop-elect of the Diocese
of New Hampshire. He is the first openly gay man to be elected bishop.
His qualifications have been carefully judged by the people of New Hampshire,
who have known him as priest in their midst for 28 years.
I participated in the vote
to consent to his election, and I want to share some thoughts with you
about this consent process:
First, the tradition in the
Episcopal Church has always been, with but a single exception (based on
the bishop-elect's churchmanship, in an election in the 1860's), to consent
to the election of bishops when these consents are given at General Convention.
Whether the bishop-elect has been liberal or conservative, the general
consensus of the larger church has been that the people of the electing
diocese have the right to choose someone they believe will best serve them.
The review or vetting process has grown even more intense in recent years,
with the result that most possible objections to an election surface long
before the election. The fact that Canon Robinson has a partner of the
same sex has been public knowledge for the 13 years they have been committed
to each other.
In particular regard to this election, I believe that the people of New
Hampshire have the right to choose the person they believe is best suited
to their particular ministry needs. I recognize that this election will
cause deep grief and pain to a number of people in this church, and I deeply
lament that reality.
Several years ago my spiritual
director asked me to reflect on the situations in which I was being crucified.
This is one of them, and I believe it is a reminder of the presence of
God, who suffers with us in our disunity. However, I know Jesus as the one
who welcomes those on the margin.
I have long experience of
living on the margin, from being a student who was "too young", to being
a woman in a traditionally male occupation, to being a "gringa" trying
to do Hispanic ministry. I believe that this election is an opportunity
for the Episcopal Church to affirm Jesus' call to those on the margins of
society, a call that says ALL are welcome at God's banquet table.
During our long afternoon
in the House of Bishops, two images continued to rise in my mind: one of
Jesus bending down to write in the sand when confronted with those who
would have stoned the woman caught in adultery; and the other of Jesus sending
the servants out to invite the passersby to the wedding feast, because
others would not come.
I will continue to reach
out to those who do not feel welcome at the feast, whether they are my
aggrieved brothers and sisters this day, or those who have not yet heard
the good news of God's love. I pray that you will do the same.