Tensions tearing apart the Church of England surfaced dramatically on Sunday when the first openly gay bishop’s sermon was disrupted bye heckling as he tried speaking to the congregation. The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, was compelled to halt his address after a demonstrator repeatedly called him a heretic. A member of the congregation accused the split that has emerged in the Anglican church upon people like Robinson whose gay beliefs are denounced by conservative church leaders. As the heckler interrupted the sermon, supporters of Robinson started a slow handclapping and someone began to sing a hymn. The heckler eventually was escorted from the church.
After the interruption, Robinson told the congregation: “This discussion of homosexuality we are having in the church is not so significant because of what it says about homosexuality, but because of what it says about God.” Earlier in the day, Stephen Green, national director of the traditionalist Christian Voice said: “It is a sad day when you get a bishop in a church preaching something that God himself called an abomination.” As Robinson told his congregation, “When someone stands up and says homosexuality is an abomination, does that make you want to get to know God?”
Robinson expressed disappointment that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has been supporting gay rights, because Robinson was not allowed to attend the Lambeth Conference.
As an outsider, one can only express amazement that leaders of a church are so conversant as to what God believes or does not believe about particular issues. Perhaps, they have a direct phone connection to heaven, the rest of us can only hope we have some grasp as to the intentions of God and do hope, the Almighty has an almighty commitment to each and every human on Planet Earth.