Senior members of the Anglican Church are seeking to prevent a split after the consecration of its first openly gay bishop.
Gene Robinson – who has lived with his male partner for 15 years – was formally made bishop of the US state of New Hampshire in a colourful but controversial ceremony on Sunday.
Irish Primate Archbishop Robin Eames, who heads a commission given the task of preserving the Church’s future, said he hoped a degree of unity could be maintained.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams – the spiritual head of the Church – said the divisions arising in the global Anglican Communion following the consecration were “a matter of deep regret”.
Bishop Robinson’s appointment would not be accepted throughout the church, he said.
Some of the bishop’s opponents have said they plan to set up a new church structure with like-minded bishops from the US and abroad.
In what is regarded by most Christians as the job description for high church office, Paul the Apostle wrote to his young protege Timothy that an ”overseer” (or minister) must be ”above reproach, the husband of one wife,” and ”must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.” Paul then asks an important question: ”If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:2-5)
Members of the Episcopal Church are being asked to accept a bishop who is not qualified for the office (nor even for the priestly one he holds). Does the Episcopal leadership (and the leadership of the parent Anglican Church) want to send the message that the Bible says only what some people want it to say? Some of Robinson’s supporters call him a ”holy man.” What could that possibly mean since ”all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23)?
People who regard Scripture as having passed from God to man error-free have warned for years what happens when these texts are treated as something less than accurate. Once compromises are made, all things become not only possible but probable.
Source: Is gay bishop a fit religious leader?
Unity over doctrine” is today promoted by various movements, but A.W. Tozer shows that “unity is no treasure to be purchased at the price of compromise.”
Shows that unity is based on common doctrine; not common experiences.
The consecration service, at a specially converted ice-hockey arena in the town of Durham, was held amid tight security, with police on rooftops and in heavy presence on the street.
About 4,000 people, including 50 American bishops, as well as Bishop Robinson’s family and parishioners, attended the ceremony.
He was given a standing ovation before being presented with brightly coloured vestments by members of his family, including his mother and father.
And then, his voice cracked with emotion, he spoke, saying “You cannot imagine what an honour it is for you to have called me.”
Three church members were given the opportunity to voice their objections during the ceremony and one woman said the consecration would not only rupture the Anglican community but “break God’s heart”.
‘Symbol of unity’
Outside, protesters and supporters of Canon Robinson were kept apart by mounted police, while a separate service for those against the consecration took place in a church in another part of the town.
Some traditionalists, who view homosexuality as a violation of the teachings of the Bible, plan to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury for permission to split from the Church.
But Archbishop Robin Eames said that while the Church was entering “unknown territory” its leaders had made it crystal clear that they wanted to maintain unity.
“I don’t think you can prevent a realignment,” he told the BBC, “but I sincerely pray we can prevent … a split.”
He said the Church would aim to minimise the damage as it did following the ordination of women priests in 1992.
“We’re still here, because we looked at ways in which the pastoral guidelines could be accepted across the world to maintain the highest possible degree of unity, and I believe we can do it again,” he said.
Senior church leaders in Africa have been at the forefront of opposition to Bishop Robinson’s appointment.
Reverend Peter Karanje, provost of All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, said he was deeply saddened to hear of the appointment, but he said church leaders in Kenya still hoped some way could be found to avert a split in the communion.