Bishop Gene Robinson Visits Christ Church Bronxville
Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire on June 7, 2003, having served as Canon to the Ordinary (Assistant to the Bishop) for nearly 18 years. A 1969 graduate of the Sewanee: The University of the South, he holds a B.A. in American Studies/History. In 1973, he completed the M.Div. degree at the General Theological Seminary in New York, was ordained deacon, then priest, before being consecrated as a Bishop on All Saints Sunday, November 2, 2003.
When Bishop Robinson was consecrated in 2003, the story made the front page of newspapers across the world. In his reflection at Christ Church, Robinson spoke on the remarkable changes that have taken place in America during the past 10 for the LGBT community. In 2010 Mary Douglas Glasspool was ordained and consecrated, becoming the second openly gay bishop, and there was barely a mention in our national newspapers. The Episcopal Church has led the way in civil rights for LGBT people and risked much to stand up for what it believes in.
The Bishop encouraged his audience at Christ Church Bronxville to love every person, explaining that together we can overcome oppression that still exists. It is a crime to live as an openly gay person in 80 countries around the world, and despite the acceptance of the LGBT community on the East Coast, many young Americans feel their life is not worth living. Bishop Robinson charged his audience with treating everyone as a child of God, regardless how they themselves have seen treated. Bishop Robinson is known for saying, “the opposite of love is not hate, but fear” explaining that we should not respond hate with hate but with love. Bishop Robinson suggests we all work together regardless of our race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs, and realize that we are stronger when we stand together.
In his address at Christ Church, Bishop Robinson shared his thoughts on not being invited to the 2008 Lambeth Conference, having breakfast with the new Archbishop of Canterbury and his opinion on Pope Francis. The Bishop also regaled the audience with stories such as praying backstage with U2, giving the invocation at the opening ceremonies for President Obama's inauguration in 2009, and sharing a waiting room with Tiger Woods. Afterwards, he made time to answer parishioners’ personal concerns and gave advice, prayer and support.
The Bishop was introduced by a representative of the LGBT & Friends Fellowship group, Michael Pollack, and was welcomed by Rector of Christ Church Bronxville, Fr. Michael Bird. After Bishop Robinson’s address to parishioners, Matthew Behrens, a senior at Bronxville High School and leader of Christ Church’s Episcopal Youth Committee thanked the Bishop for his visit and presented him with a gift from the Taizé Monastery.
The afternoon concluded with a short response from Melanie Wadkins, a committee member of LGBT & Friends Fellowship group. Melanie called Christ Church Bronxville a beacon of light in the community. She explained, not only does Christ Church Bronxville draw many people in who might not be accepted elsewhere, but it shines a light on oppression and helps lead us to take action against what is unjust.