Gay Bishop Vote Doesn't Surprise Local Parish

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

Jim Lincoln, a Senior Warden at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Harrisonburg, states clearly what his church believes.

"We don't advocate heterosexuality or homosexuality. We accept you as you are," he says.

The door is always open at the Episcopal Church. Lincoln says it's a melting pot of people and traditions with ties to the Anglican Church of England and to the most liberal policies in America.

The recent election of actively gay Reverend Gene Robinson to be bishop is a first for the church but fitting for its non-discriminatory reputation.

Episcopalian Campus Minister and Reverand Laura Lockey, says, "If this man is good and decent and honorable and has fidelity in his life than it's fine. It doesn't bother me at all."

She says the Episcopal Church has been ordaining gays for 2000 years. In fact, the Harrisonburg parish has an open and celibate lesbian as priest. What's new in the case of Robinson is that he's not celibate and he's in a higher position of leadership.

Lockey says that's sure to fuel a debate within the denomination.

"The conservatives in the church are I'm sure screaming now and the liberals are cheering," she says.

Reverand Jack Sutor says the Episcopal churches in Virginia historically follow the rules set by their national governing body.

That means, despite the New Hampshire ruling, the state will continue with its current guidelines for gay leaders. And it will not celebrate holy matrimony for same-sex couples. But Sutor says homosexuals are welcome to worship.

"Do we marginalize them? No. Are we cruel to them? God knows we don't want to be that way," he says.

There are about 2.5 million Episcopalians across the country. About 10-percent of them are estimated to be gay.


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