When the General Convention of The Episcopal Church confirmed the election of my long-time friend Gene Robinson as Bishop Coadjutor of New Hampshire, I decided that there was only one way that I could respond to those other friends who were opposed to that action, especially those who were my parishioners. My response had three parts:
- I agree wholeheartedly with the decision of the General Convention and rejoice that New Hampshire has such a wonderful bishop.
- I don't ask that you share my convictions about this.
- If your convictions prevent you from remaining in The Episcopal Church, a church that has a partnered gay bishop, I will respect your decision to leave.
In the four years since that General Convention decision, I have not changed my response, but now it is a response as well to brothers and sisters in other parts of The Anglican Communion, a few of whom I count as my friends. If the convictions of my friend the Primate of the Church in Kenya lead him to the decision that he cannot remain part of The Anglican Communion, a communion that has a partnered gay bishop, I will respect his decision to leave.
These responses are not made without some sadness. Some of those who have left, are leaving, or are thinking about it have been my friends for decades. I will miss being able to share the sacraments with them, miss sharing ministry with them. But I see, even more clearly now than I did in 2003, that our convictions are so deeply held that it is nearly impossible for us to remain in communion with one another. My prayer is that as separations come, we will part company with good grace, holding one another in those same bonds of affection that bind us - or should bind us - to our brothers and sisters in other branches of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.