Vermont Episcopal bishop to vote for Robinson

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(Host) Vermont’s Episcopal bishop says he will vote to ratify the election of the church’s first openly gay Bishop. He says he will also support a controversial effort to recognize same-sex relationships within the church.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) This week’s General Convention of Episcopal Bishops has received a lot of attention inside and outside the church because of two controversial items involving homosexuality. The bishops will vote on whether or not to ratify the election of the Reverend Gene Robinson as bishop of the New Hampshire diocese. If he is ratified, Robinson would become the first openly gay bishop in the church.

Vermont Bishop Thomas Ely says he’s known Robinson for more than 20 years and plans to support his election. Ely describes Robinson as a great leader. He says ratification of a bishop is usually routine, but he’s not sure how the convention will vote on Robinson.

(Ely) “There are certainly people who have indicated their intention to vote ‘no’ to Gene’s confirmation. And so I imagine there will be a sizeable number of people who will do that. How large that will be, I just don’t know. I certainly hope that the vote is large enough for him to be confirmed and I would hope it’s large enough that the confirmation is not a razor thin decision. Although if it is, that will still be the decision.”

(Zind) It’s expected the convention will also consider a resolution to create an Episcopal ceremony to bless same-sex relationships. Conservative bishops have threatened to split with the church over the issue. Ely says he’s concerned about that. He hopes the church will we able to accommodate its more conservative members while still finding a way to recognize same-sex relationships.

(Ely) “Certainly here in Vermont, it’s an important issue for many of our congregations, who have large numbers of gay and lesbian persons who are part of those communities of faith and want to live into those faith communities as fully as they can and have the support of that faith community of the church when they’re in a relationship with another person.”

(Zind) There are about 10,000 Episcopalians in Vermont. Ely says there’s been considerable growth in the church in the state in the past decade.

For Vermont Public Radio. I’m Steve Zind.

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