Saturday, October 25, 2003
Canon Gene Robinson Addresses Halfway to Lambeth by Satellite Link
by Matthew Davies
Speaking via a live satellite link from New Hampshire today, the Revd Canon V Gene Robinson, who will be consecrated as the Anglican Communion's first openly gay bishop next week, told the Halfway to Lambeth conference that "the issue of homosexuality in the Church should not be elevated above all that holds us together".
The conference, which is being held in Manchester this weekend, has been organised by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement to provide an opportunity for bishops, and others from the Anglican Communion, to listen to the experience of homosexual people.
More than 250 people, including international guests and keynote speakers, filled a lecture hall at Manchester University to hear the 45-minute live broadcast.
Canon Robinson told the conference about how Jesus had been a model of strength and stability for him throughout the past few months. "I have been reflecting a lot about Jesus at His trial," he said. "It has given me a profound respect for our Saviour who was silent at His trial and just absorbed the evil that was there."
He also spoke about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and how difficult it can be sometimes to move forward in God's way. "It was the religious establishment that were often enraged by what Jesus said and did. It is the marginalised who rejoiced. In some ways the world hasn't changed." he said. "This loving God of ours offers us a promised land, just as He did to the Hebrews."
After Canon Robinson's opening speech, an opportunity was allocated for questions. Elaine Graham, Professor of Social and Pastoral Theology at the University of Manchester, asked Canon Robinson how important the Anglican tradition has been to him. "We continue to disagree about all sorts of things but can still come together around the altar rail," he said. "Our tradition is not a narrow one but a very broad, encompassing one."
Asked what he thought about Archbishop Rowan Williams' public disapproval to his consecration, he said, "I am doing my best to follow God's call to me, as I know Rowan Williams is and as I know the Primates are, but that does not mean we need to separate. We have far more that keeps us together than separates us."
Canon Robinson said that the media had been an astounding presence in his life since his appointment and that the publicity his election had generated had helped him to attract people back into the Anglican Church.
Earlier in the day the Rt Revd Michael Ingham delivered a speech on Reclaiming Orthodoxy. The full text can be found at: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/articles/36/25/acns3648.html.
Other keynote speakers included: the Very Revd Rowan Smith, Dean of Cape Town Cathedral in South Africa; the Revd Mario Ribas, Rector of All Saint's Church in Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Christopher Senteza, Vice President of Integrity, Uganda.
A conference service will take place at the Parish Church of St John Chrysostom tomorrow (Sunday 26 October) at 12:30pm.
Anglican Communion News Service, London