In 1976, when the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women, Nancy M. Ruhl of Austin, Tex., was in Minneapolis sitting beside a fellow seminarian and former Roman Catholic monk. They held totally opposite views on the issue, she said. “The two of us were a microcosm of how deeply felt and how deeply divided the church was.”
Ruhl sees parallels in Gene Robinson’s election as the church’s first openly gay bishop.
“The tenor in the church is much the same,” she said. “Debate has been going on for a long time. Most of the vitriol has gone out of the debate. There is a feeling that we could not delay any longer. We needed to come to a vote. No matter what happened in the vote, large numbers of people would be deeply grieved, and large numbers of people would be profoundly grateful that finally, in their opinion, the church had done the right thing.”