Openly Gay Bishop Robinson Sets Retirement Date
Eckstrom, Kevin, The Christian Century
Most Episcopal bishops retire around age 65, and Bishop V. Gene Robinson made his retirement date official by asking the Diocese of New Hampshire to elect a successor so that he can retire in early 2013.
Addressing delegates November 6 at the diocesan convention in Concord, New Hampshire, Robinson, 63, said the furor following his groundbreaking election as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church has taken a "toll on me, my family and you."
Robinson said he would continue after retirement to be a roving ambassador for gay rights in the church and beyond, particularly as a bridge between unaffiliated or former Christians and a denomination that ordains women and gay bishops.
"I have had the privilege of bringing many people into the church for the first time, or convincing them that the church is becoming a safe place to which they can return with a reasonable expectation of welcome," he told his convention. "This is evangelism for me, pure and simple."
But Robinson, who wore a bulletproof vest during his installation as bishop, said the diocese should elect a successor to take over when he retires officially on January 5, 2013.
"Death threats, and the now worldwide controversy surrounding your election of me as bishop, have been a constant strain, not just on me, but on my beloved husband, Mark ... and in some ways, you."
Starting with his election in 2003, Robinson's tenure shaped life within the 2.1-million-member Episcopal Church and strained relationships with its sister Anglican churches overseas.
Conservative Anglicans, especially in Africa and Asia, cut ties with the Episcopal Church after Robinson's election; one prominent African archbishop called it a "Satanic attack upon God's church. …