On Oct. 18, the day the Windsor Report was released, Anglicans heard many voices reacting to it — from those in favor of a church that fully includes homosexual members to those who believe homosexuality is a grave sin.
But a representative of the man at the centre of the controversy — Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire — turned away all requests for interviews, explaining that Bishop Robinson would be reading and reflecting on the report and meeting with members of his diocese.
The report recommended ways Anglican churches worldwide can continue in unity, even as they disagree about matters like liberalizing attitudes toward gay people.
Later, in a telephone interview with Anglican Journal, Bishop Robinson said his initial reaction to the report was different from his feelings later on. “(At first), when I got to the part asking for a moratorium on the election of gay and lesbian folk to the episcopate, it made me feel very sad and somewhat lonely. I’d hoped I wouldn’t have to live too much longer as the only ‘gay and lesbian’ bishop,” he said. The report will, he believes, “have a chilling effect on dioceses’ ability to elect a gay or lesbian person as bishop.”
However, he later met with clergy and lay leaders in the diocese and was “surrounded with love and support about how we are going about being the church in New Hampshire.”
He came to feel “very positive” about the report, he said. “It offers a way forward for us to stay in communion while we fight on these issues and we find unanimity in Jesus Christ,” he said.
However, he said he does feel there is “one real deficiency” in the report. The document is “very careful to detail the pain (felt by conservatives) with respect to my consecration, but there is not a word about the pain gay and lesbian people have experienced at the hands of the church,” he said. The omission “just didn’t occur to anyone and that is the price you pay when you have no gay or lesbian people on the commission.”
He said he has no intention of resigning. “The Windsor Report did not call for me to step down and did not call for the Episcopal Church to repent or change its action, only to express regret. That is something I can wholeheartedly and genuinely do,” he said.
Meanwhile, life in the diocese goes on. “Our churches are growing. We are getting tons of people coming back to the church. We have Roman Catholic families coming in,” he said.
However, one parish, Church of the Redeemer in Manchester, split over Bishop Robinson’s election and consecration, with about 45 parishioners joining a local Baptist church and 30 remaining at Redeemer.
Overall, the church in New Hampshire “wants to model an inclusive church,” he said.