Michael was asked to offer the introduction to Bishop Gene Robinson as he discussed his new book at the Free library on Wednesday, June 12. Here is the text of Michael’s intro. We will post the podcast of Bishop Robinson’s presentation when it is available.
I’m Michael Caine, pastor of Old First Reformed United Church of Christ, at 4th and Race in Old City. I have the great pleasure today of introducing the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson.
In the on-going history of human liberation, as more and different people are recognized, included and valued for their humanity in all its varied forms, there are certain individuals who “go first.”
Since Gene is a churchman, let’s use, as examples:
~ a congregation’s first woman pastor, or
~ the first time that the pastor is ethnically or racially different than most of the people in the pews.
Obviously, in North America and around the world these days, we often hear of the first gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people publicly acknowledged in certain roles and leadership positions.
Today, we have the honor of hearing from the first openly gay Bishop in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
“The firsts” often have quite a struggle to get to where they can be recognized and respected. And often the struggle doesn’t end there, with election or consecration or faithful service…
But the firsts, when they wear their mantles well, they make the world better for all of us. Bring us all closer to what the Bible calls “living abundantly.”
Bishop Robinson has worn the mantle of his office well. He has become a compassionate, generous and humane advocate for the rights and equality of queer folk. He has also maintained an openness and love for those who would deny him and others their place at the Table.
It’s important that, as the world struggles to affirm l,g,b,t folk, the church participates — even shares in the world’s struggle as it shares its struggle. Those of us far from the debates in the Anglican communion are thankful for Gene’s solid witness and transformative ministry.
And that his ministry never became just the one topic. He has also been a fierce advocate for women’s right to choose and for the plight of poor people.
Gene is much more than “the gay Bishop,” even as we are thankful for that:
Gene’s parents were tenant tobacco farmers in KY.
He was raised in the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ.
He attended the University of the South, majoring in American Studies.
In high school and college, he has explained, the Episcopal Church “got a hold” of him.
He attended General Theological Seminary in New York City.
Was ordained a priest at the Episcopal Cathedral in Newark.
Served as the Curate of Christ Church in Ridgewood, NJ before moving to New Hampshire.
He served as the Canon to the Ordinary, “the assistant to the Bishop” for us not familiar with the Anglican idiom …for 18 years.
He’s the proud father of two daughters, Jamee and Ella. He remembers his marriage to their mom as a blessing.
He came out in the mid 80‘s. And has been in a relationship with his husband, Mark, since 1987. They were “civil union-ed” in 2008 and legally married in 2010.
Gene was elected a Bishop 10 years ago this month. And consecrated later that year.
He retired in January of this year.
And his ministry continues not just as an author and a speaker. He currently splits his time between New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. where he is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.
But we are blessed to have him here with us today as he presents his book “God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage…”