Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire

Rev. V. Gene Robinson Does Times Talk

By Jonathan Vatner

An exclusive posted June 17, 2009

On Monday, June 15th at about 6:30 p.m., Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the openly gay Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, took the stage at the LGBT Community Center in New York City in his bishop’s purple shirt, gold cross -- and, perhaps not surprisingly, polka-dot socks. He sat before a packed house of multi-denominational Christians, as well as a fair number of Jews, agnostics, and possibly others -- a testament to his preternatural ability to build bridges between disparate groups. His interviewer, (the Jewish) New York Times religion correspondent Laurie Goodstein, had written about his career since his history-making consecration in 2003.

Almost six years later, he is still the only openly gay bishop, despite efforts to convince closeted bishops to join him. “I would never out any of them,” he said. “But there are days when I think it’s pretty lonely out there.”

And though Robinson was not exactly sanguine about the prospects for imminent LGBT equality in the Episcopal church, he felt that marriage equality in the U.S. was “taking on an air of inevitability.” He added, “Even the conservatives know it’s going to happen; it’s just a matter of when.”

The conversation, organized by TimesTalks, took place less than two weeks after New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage, thanks in large part to Robinson’s continuing efforts to work with religious groups and the right wing.

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Voices of Equality: Gene Robinson

V. Gene Robinson was elected Bishop Coadjutor (a bishop who will succeed the current bishop upon his retirement) 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. He was consecrated a Bishop on All Saints Sunday, November 2, 2003, and was invested as the Ninth Bishop of New Hampshire on March 7, 2004.

… Clergy wellness has long been a focus of Gene's ministry, and in the nineties he developed the "Being Well in Christ," conference model for The Cornerstone Project, and led clergy conferences in over 20 dioceses in the U.S. and Canada. He initiated Fresh Start, a two-year mentoring program for all clergy in new positions in New Hampshire, and co-authored the Fresh Start curriculum, now in use in nearly half of the dioceses of the Episcopal Church. Much of his ministry has focused on helping congregations and clergy, especially in times of conflict, utilizing his skills in congregational dynamics, conflict resolution and mediation.

Co-author of three AIDS education curricula for youth and adults, Gene has done AIDS work in the United States and in Africa (Uganda and South Africa). He has been an advocate for anti-racism training in the diocese and wider Church. He helped build the Diocese of New Hampshire's close working partnership with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, advocated for debt relief for the world's most impoverished nations, and lobbied for socially-responsible investment within and beyond the Church. He currently serves on the Board of the New Hampshire Endowment for Health, which works for access to health care for the uninsured. Bishop Robinson currently serves as a Trustee of the Church Pension Fund.

Gene enjoys entertaining and cooking, gardening, music and running. He is the father of two grown daughters and the proud, new grandfather of little Morgan Isabella. He lives with his partner, Mark Andrew, who is employed by the State of New Hampshire's Department of Safety.

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