Tears, prayers, and consoling words revealed the depth of disappointment over Tuesday’s confirmation of New Hampshire Bishop-elect Gene Robinson during the Anglican American Council’s worship yesterday at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Some 320 orthodox Episcopalians including clergy and bishops packed into the historic church’s chapel and surrounding common spaces to hear Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh offer a blueprint for reaction and action.
“It is a grave blow,” said Duncan in his sermon. “But it’s a particular battle. We know who’s won the victory. What we have to do is go forward in faith,” he charged, adding, “Forward in Faith, doesn’t that sound like a nice name?” (Forward in Faith North America, part of a worldwide association of Anglicans opposed to ordination of women as priests or bishops, has sponsored an alternative worship at Westminster each day of Convention.)
“Whether we lost battles along the way, never mind. It is truly His fight, a victory revealed day by day,” the bishop said, mentioning that after announcement of the Robinson vote yesterday, opponents gathered to sing and pray, not to protest.
Prayers for Anglican leaders included Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, who voted for Robinson’s confirmation. “We pray that our division may cease and that, for this congregation, we may be delivered of hardness of heart,” said celebrant, the Rev. Daniel Herron of Albany.
Bishops attending the service included Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon of the Kaduna province in Nigeria, who delivered the sermon during Convention’s Eucharist on Sunday.
Idowu-Fearon said Tuesday’s vote encouraged him to bring good news back to his province.
“Forty-three bishops voted against confirmation,” he said. “I was expecting 25, so I’m really grateful to the Lord for answering my prayers. Contrary to what most believe, we have a good number within ECUSA who support biblical principles and they are prepared to die for what they believe.
“I’ll be telling them I sat through the debate and it’s very clear in the House of Bishops that a significant number believe that they are leading the Anglican Church by this decision. They believe those of us who are value-based are afraid and they also believe eventually we will follow them.”
Following Eucharist came word of the Rev. Kendall Harmon’s statement to the House of Deputies. He said that AAC-affiliated deputies would leave Convention for the day or the duration.
The Rev. Donald Curran, a deputy from Central Florida, said, “We have to take the truth to many people back home who are going to be very surprised at how the deputation voted. I’m not sure how parishioners are going to handle it.
Bishop John W. Howe of the Diocese of Central Florida said: “We’ll call a special convention and see what this means to us. As far as action, we’ll consider all options.”
Bishop Michael Nazer-Ali, at Convention from the the Church of England, said that the matter “isn’t closed yet.”
The Rev. David Anderson, head of the AAC., said that “when word reaches the Internet that the elevation of Gene Robinson as bishop of the Anglican Communion has taken place, the mullahs will take that off the Internet and read it at Friday prayers in Islamic countries. And there will be Christians who will die as a result of that, in different points where the Anglican Church and the Islamic communities touch.”