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"My consecration will never affect the average Episcopalian." V. Gene Robinson, Bishop-elect of New Hampshire at GC2003


Special Report

By David W. Virtue

The Bishop of New Hampshire is in for a rude awakening. His consecration is affecting not only the entire Anglican Communion causing whole provinces to disassociate themselves from the ECUSA, it is drying up funds to The Episcopal Church ferom orthodox dioceses, and now it is beginning to affect local parishes as well.

Here are the consequences to one parish in America's Heartland. A lay leader in a conservative congregation in a liberal diocese sent the following report.

The question was raised at a recent parish meeting, "where is the Episcopal Church going?"

"We are really going through a difficult time as a result of the Gene Robinson consecration," he wrote to Virtuosity.

"Since September, both our attendance and our giving has declined by at least 20 percent. We are more than $8,400 in arrears to the diocese--not because we want to withhold it--but simply because we can't pay it. In pledges for 2004, we only have about $75,000 which is about half of what we had in 2003 from half as many households and not enough to keep a full-time priest, and part-time secretary, organist-choirmaster, and sexton."

And that's not all.

He writes: "I think everybody on the vestry and about 95 percent of the congregation opposes what the Episcopal Church has done. The rector tells me there are three or four individuals in the parish who think it was a "good thing." He wants to find a way to hold the parish together and remain in the Episcopal Church, but what are we to do?"

Last Sunday the rector told him that four families had recently left the church. They told him basically, "We stayed until the end of the year--liked you asked--but nothing has happened and so we're leaving."

"I wish Gene Robinson could come and look this congregation in the face on Sunday morning to see what he hath wrought. Even for those members who supported his consecration, it still affects them because of what is happening to their parish."

"If nothing happens--if the powers that be do not provide an alternative for congregations like ours--I fear that we will dissolve and most members will leave before the end of the 2004. At best, I think most people will still leave and we will become a mission congregation with aid from the diocese. But I have also heard that this same thing is happening in several other parishes in our diocese."

"Gene Robinson's consecration affects little congregations like ours in America's Heartland because we have been told all of our lives that we are a [capital] Church and we do things together and what one diocese or person does affects the whole Church."

"Bishops and theologians have told us all our lives that we are not like those 'congregational churches' where congregations and pastors 'do their own thing.'"

"Now we are learning the truth, our Anglican theology is coming home to roost."


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