Widely known as the Episcopal Church's first openly gay, non-celibate priest to be elected bishop, there is much more to know about the Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson.
Robinson, elected in 2003, is ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, the diocese where he served for nearly 18 years as Canon to the Ordinary (Assistant to the Bishop).
Robinson's topic is "I Used to Be Me but Now I'm You": The Tough Work of Reconciliation.
"Based on the theme of the week, what I'm going to attempt to do is tease apart what moral behavior is," Robinson said. "Moral behavior comes out of an identification with the other so there is no more 'us' and 'them.' There's just 'us.'"
All else emanates from that understanding, he added. In the same way, immorality results from ignoring that reality.
He said he would use the Jonas' scripture story to try to point out "where he failed to do the real and difficult work of reconciliation and stopped before the hard work began."
Reconciliation, moral behavior and really belonging to the human community is not a Hallmark greeting card kind of sentimentality, Robinson said. It involves hard work, he said. It has little to do with liking someone; it is deeper than an emotion.
Clergy wellness has long been a focus of Robinson's ministry, and he developed the "Being Well in Christ" conference model for The Cornerstone Project in the 1990s. Robinson has led these conferences in more than 20 dioceses in the U.S. and Canada. He also initiated Fresh Start, a two-year mentoring program for all clergy in new positions in New Hampshire and co-authored the Fresh Start curriculum now in use in nearly half of the dioceses of the Episcopal Church.
Co-author of three HIV/AIDS education curricula for youth and adults, Robinson has done HIV/AIDS work in the U.S. and Africa. Another focus of his ministry has been helping congregations and clergy, especially in times of conflict.
Robinson's ex-wife was an equestrian, he said, and he learned to be an equestrian as well. Shortly after his ordination, he did not have a church, so he co-owned and directed an American Camp Association accredited horseback riding summer camp for girls in New Hampshire.
Robinson also was founding director of the Dove Retreat Center, where he led retreat programs for vestries, diocesan committees and intergenerational groups. He said he ran the retreat center September to May and ran the camp in the summer. The riding camp is still running, he said.
Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree in American studies/history at Sewanee: The University of the South, Tennessee, and a Master of Divinity at the General Theological Seminary in New York.
A divorced father of two and grandfather of two with a partner of 13 years, Robinson's story is told in the 2007 feature-length documentary "For the Bible Tells Me So."
By Judy Lawrence, Chautauquan Daily staff writer
V. Gene Robinson is a Senior Fellow at American Progress. He was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire on June 7, 2003, having served as Canon to the Ordinary (assistant to the bishop) for nearly 18 years. He was consecrated a bishop on All Saints Sunday, November 2, 2003, and was invested as the Ninth Bishop of New Hampshire on March 7, 2004.