“The Devil Has Clearly Entered the Church”
Vol: 26 Issue: 10 Monday, November 10, 2003
How dare we in this country spend $87 billion on war when 44 million people have no health insurance? It s up to the church to lead on some of these moral issues. – -Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson
‘Leading on moral issues’ was, ironically enough, the theme of Gene Robinson’s first sermon as the Espiscopalian Church’s gay Bishop of New Hampshire. Robinson spoke from the pulpit of All Saint’s Church, the same church where he married his wife — before divorcing her to live openly in a gay relationship. There’s enough irony here to press shirts.
Bishop Robinson also said his ministry would be to bring God’s love to ‘those on the margins’. He didn’t really identify who, exactly, was on the ‘margins’ — care to take a guess?
Conservatives within the US church think they know who lives on the ‘margins’, and they’ve asked the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual head of the Anglican Church, to authorize a separate Anglican province for them in North America.
Robinson’s elevation also sent shockwaves through the world wide Anglican Church. On Nov. 3, overseas bishops who said they represented 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.
A statement, issued by Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria “for and on behalf of the working committee for the Primates of the Global South,” said that they were “appalled” that the Episcopal Church USA “ignored the heartfelt plea of the Communion not to proceed with the scheduled consecration” and the “clear and strong warning of its detrimental consequences for the unity of the Communion.”
Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of the Anglican Church of Kenya was equally blunt, announcing that his church will have nothing to do with Bishop Robinson or any of the 53 bishops who participated in his consecration, refusing to look upon them as fellow Anglicans. “We cannot be in the same communion with Robinson, his diocese and the bishops who were in the consecration.”
When pressed about what cutting ties meant, he said that the Kenyans would not accept any support from the Episcopal Church, including missionaries.
“The devil has clearly entered the church. God cannot be mocked,” he said.
According to Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the Province of the West Indies, a majority of Anglicans would be willing to sacrifice their financial support rather than accept the consecration of Gene Robinson.
“America does make the largest contribution to the worldwide Anglican Communion. That’s a matter of fact,” he said in an interview with the Nassau Guardian. “As much as we need the money, the gospel must come first. We are prepared to suffer.”
In Rochester, New Hampshire, about half the parishoners walked out mid-service to protest the dismissal of their interim minister because he opposed Robinson’s elevation. Bishop Douglas Theuner of the Diocese of New Hampshire removed the Rev. Donald Wilson on Friday for insubordination when Wilson refused to come to Concord to meet with Theuner on the matter. Robinson will automatically succeed Theuner when the bishop retires next year.
The American Anglican Council, a national conservative group opposed to Robinson s elevation, called on Theuner to restore Wilson.
One place where Robinson’s elevation was greeted with almost universal joy was Great Britain, the seat of the Anglican Church. Dean Colin Slee of Southwark Cathedral in London said that Anglicans should rejoice that “at last there is an open and honest consecration of a homosexual bishop within the church. There have been many before but they have not been honest or open.”
“His ministry will inspire lesbian, gay, bisexual and heterosexual Christians with new confidence that we have a full place at the communion table of our Lord,” said the Rev. Colin Coward, director of Changing Attitude, a British organization of Anglican bishops, priests and lay people that promotes a more open attitude in the church.
Rev. Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of the US Episcopal Church told the Seattle Post, “The ordination and consecration of Gene Robinson is an indication that a majority of Episcopalians, represented by the General Convention, have come to discern that the fruits of the spirit are alive in men and women who share affection with members of the same sex. . . The church is truly present in the lives of these people, and they are truly present in the life of the church.”
There is room for one more quote — this one from the Apostle Paul.
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:26-32)