New Hampshire Bishop-elect Gene Robinson and Sam Candler, dean of St. Philip’s Cathedral in Atlanta, met in a Convention Center hallway just after the House of Deputies consented to Robinson’s election. Robinson and Candler hugged, and Robinson declared, “What an amazing day.”
In a vote by orders, lay deputations voted 63 yes, 32 no, and 13 divided. Clergy deputations voted 65 yes, 31 no, and 12 divided. The House of Bishops will take up Robinson’s consent at 2:30 p.m. today.
If the bishops give their consent, Robinson may well be seated in the house that day. The House of Bishops has given seat and voice to all the other bishops whose elections have been accepted at this convention.
Saying that he thought God was doing a new thing in the Church on Sunday afternoon, Robinson said that his feelings of peace and humility were tempered by the knowledge that “this is a very troubling decision for many in our church.”
At a news conference after the vote, Robinson repeatedly urged Episcopalians and Anglicans to remain in the Church and work through their differences. He told the story of serving communion during Saturday Eucharist and being approached by “one of the most conservative bishops” in the Church. The bishop was one of 24 who signed a recent letter urging a vote against Robinson. Robinson said the bishop took communion from him and offered him the peace.
“If we can continue doing that, we’re going to be just fine,” he said.
Four weeks ago Sunday the Rev. Canon Jeffrey John, a gay priest in a currently celibate relationship in England, withdrew from his episcopal appointment because many people feared it would cause a schism. A reporter asked Robinson what message the House of Deputies sent to England.
“Perhaps it says that the child can sometimes teach the parent,” he said. “I would hope that the Church of England would pay attention and learn from this creation of theirs.”
House of Deputies president George W. Werner summed up the reaction to the Deputies’ approval. “For many, it’s going to be a time of hope, and for many it’s going to be a time of great despair,” he told the news conference.
“I applaud the actions of the House of Deputies,” said the Rev. Susan Russell, executive director of Claiming the Blessing. “I think what we saw here was the Deputies saying Amen to the Holy Spirit having already spoken in New Hampshire. I’m encouraged and I look forward to the House of Bishops doing the same tomorrow.”
Michael Hopkins of Integrity said he was pleased with the vote which he said was “a little better” than he expected.
The American Anglican Council called on the House of Bishops to spend Sunday night in individual and corporate prayer and fasting.
“I think the House of Deputies has made a profound mistake,” AAC president David Anderson said. “I think they have shown forth what has become an unfortunate arrogance on the part of our Church to the global family. We talk about the importance of unity in the family, but clearly when we say that we mean just us and the rest of the Communion can take a hike. This kind of an attitude is just kind of the ugly American transposed into the church. It says a lot about our soul.”
Werner had a different assessment of the church’s soul Sunday afternoon.“You saw something today that you may never see again for a long time,” he told reporters at the news conference. “You saw something today about people really trying to find our souls, and it was a most magnificent and chilling moment.”
Episcopal News Service reporter David Skidmore contributed to this article.