After clearing him of allegations that surfaced late Sunday, the Episcopal Church voted Tuesday to officially confirm the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire. Robinson will be the denomination’s first openly gay bishop.
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said the House of Bishops voted 62-45 in favor of Robinson’s confirmation with two bishops abstaining. The vote was the final one needed after the House of Deputies approved Robinson’s election Sunday afternoon.
The delegation from the Missouri diocese voted unanimously to approve Robinson’s confirmation, said the Rev. Mike Kinman, chairman of the group.
Kinman noted the mixture of joy and anxiety that accompanied Robinson’s confirmation.
“There are people who are laughing and crying at the same time,” Kinman said.
Robinson’s election has been a matter of contention within the church, an issue that has threatened to split the denomination and shatter its ties with the Anglican communion worldwide.
“I feel that we have done the right thing,” Kinman said. “I’m not feeling fear, I’m not feeling anxiety, but I am feeling the weight of the waters we have waded into.”
Kinman emphasized the need of the church to unite in a time of crisis and to include those with opposing points of view.
“We were unanimous as a bishop and as a deputation about Robinson’s confirmation, and we’re resolved to be unanimous about something else also,” Kinman said. “We will go everywhere in this diocese and we will sit with people in their joy, we will sit with people in their pain. We’re committed to being one church in the diocese of Missouri.”
The Rev. Fred Thayer, a member of the Missouri delegation and rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, noted the ability of those attending convention to work together, despite differing opinions on the church’s stance toward homosexuality.
“Most people agree that sexuality issues are not core doctrinal issues,” Thayer said. “That’s not to say they’re not central to how we live our lives, but they’re not at the core of our doctrine.”
Both Kinman and Thayer emphasized the diversity of the Episcopal Church and its ability to pull together in the face of adversity.
“What’s important about the Episcopal Church is that we can be deeply divided over something, but tomorrow morning we’ll be sitting around that worship table together,” Kinman said. “When the sun comes up tomorrow, we’ll still be doing the Lord’s work. That’s what’s important.”
Both men also expressed the need to focus on greater issues under consideration at the convention, which occurs once every three years. The church is looking at allowing blessings of same-sex relationships as well as committing more church funds to international development.
“Twenty to 30 years from now, I truly believe that other resolutions we’ve passed at this convention will have a much more important effect on the world than the election of Gene Robinson,” Kinman said.
Although official discussion of Robinson’s confirmation is now closed on the convention floor, Kinman and Thayer emphasized the ongoing nature of discussion about the issues that have been raised.
“Many of us will be returning to our parishes by next Sunday,” Thayer said. “People will be thinking about this quite a bit as they contemplate what they’ll be preaching and what they’ll be teaching when they bring convention home.”
Both men noted that the action of the convention is unprecedented, and that its practical implications remain to be seen.
“Everyone’s alert to what will come next, but we don’t know what that is,” Thayer said. “I don’t know what that is. I don’t think anyone does.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.