Campus Episcopalians varied on consecration of gay bishop
With the appointment of an openly gay bishop in their church, Episcopal students on campus are expressing a mixture of enthusiasm and concern for the future unity of the denomination worldwide.
The Rev. V. Gene Robinson was consecrated in a ceremony Nov. 2 as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, becoming the first openly gay prelate in the history of the Episcopal Church. Robinson's election, approved by a national convention of clergymen earlier in the year, has drawn outrage from Anglican clerics and worshipers in this nation and across the world. The Anglican Church is the international equivalent of the Episcopal Church in the United States.
Though most dissent comes from outside the United States, the issue has had an impact on campus as well.
Many students support the appointment enthusiastically.
"The whole point of any religion is one's relationship with God, and in God's eyes we're all equal," said Anne Throdahl '05, who is one of three student leaders of the Episcopoal Church at Princeton. "So I think it's great that church policy is demonstrating that."
Others are not so sure.
"There are some students who feel that homosexuality is wrong and that he should not have been elected bishop to the church," said the Rev. Stephen White, who leads the Episcopalian service at the University Chapel each Sunday. "I would say that that's a minority opinion, but it does exist on campus within the Episcopalian church."
White, who supports Robinson's consecration, said it was more important to resolve the growing division in the church than the moral questions surrounding homosexuality.
"Which is worse, heresy or schism? In this way of thinking we would always say that schism is worse than heresy," said White, a reverend of three years.
"Because if you have schism, you can't fix the heresy. You can't sort of come to a right way of understanding God's will."
Many students agreed the split in the church is the more important of the two issues.
"I'm relatively ambivalent about his consecration in particular. I was a lot more concerned about the effect it would have on the Episcopal church as a whole," said Owen Hehmeyer, a third-year graduate student in chemical engineering.
"I probably would have voted on whichever way is more likely to preserve the union, which is against the consecration, because most of the Anglican church is against it."
The ECP is a student organization that meets twice a week to celebrate the Eucharist and conduct informal discussions on religious issues.
On Oct. 7 Bishop Neff Powell of the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, who cast a vote in the controversial election, spoke to the ECP about his experience at the convention.
"One of the things that I think is very important on this campus for the Episcopalian church is that disagreement is OK, dissent is OK," said White.
"We're not afraid to engage these issues, and I really try desperately to get that message out to students."
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