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COLUMBUS, OH: Gay Eucharist attracts 1,000+

COLUMBUS, OH: Gay Eucharist attracts 1,000+

By Hans Zeiger
VirtueOnline Correspondent
www.virtueonline.org

COLUMBUS, OHIO (6/16/06)-Over 1,000 homosexual and pro-homosexual clergy, bishops, and laymen of the Episcopal Church celebrated Eucharist Friday evening at Trinity Episcopal Church, just blocks from the site of the 75th Episcopal General Convention.

"This is a small taste of what heaven must be like," said the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, as he began his sermon to the prolonged cheers of the adoring congregation. Then Robinson was brought to tears as he thanked his homosexual partner Mark, three years after the Episcopal Convention at which Robinson's election as bishop was affirmed.

Sponsored by the homosexual pressure group Integrity, the gay-themed Eucharist stretched on for about two hours and 20 pages in the Eucharist program. The service began with a prelude on the church's massive pipe organ and concluded with a resounding rendition of "Amazing Grace" by the congregation. Around 600 communicants took places in the pews, while hundreds more sat in folding chairs, packed into the balconies, and flowed into the basement, the foyer, and out the doors.

Bishop Robinson said that he was primarily addressing the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members of the Episcopal Church who were gathered there, adding, "I do invite those of you who are, shall we say, 'homosexually challenged,' to listen it."

Robinson described his talk as part "pep rally," exhorting his audience to increase their efforts toward homosexual inclusion in the Episcopal Church. Robinson clearly countered the international Anglican Communion's Windsor Report, which calls the Episcopal Church to repent of its hasty homosexual advances three years ago, declaring, "No matter how much is being asked of us by this convention, God asks of us even more."

"The Spirit of God is that part of God which refuses to be contained...God won't just stay put, and God won't let you and me stay put, content to believe the things we've always believed," said Robinson. "Remember how we used to think of ourselves, that we believed the church when we were told we were abominations."

"And then," said Robinson-his audience rapt in the Gothic church, a shiny-baldheaded priest with earring seated beside a skinny goateed man, an elderly hippie couple here, a rather austere looking man in clerical collar there, a row of women with colorful clothing and activist buttons, all heeding the call-"the Spirit of God went through us like wind...and we were saved, quite literally born again."

Robinson read a passage from a book that he said was the "secret that makes Gene Robinson tick," John Fortunato's Embracing the Exile (Harper, 1982). Fortunato described in the passage his coming-out experience, and his satisfaction with being gay. "What the hell are you asking me to do?" Fortunato asked God in his book.

Robinson called on homosexuals to have "compassion for our enemies...We do have enemies," and to "understand their fear that causes them to reject us."

The strongest rejection of homosexuality in the Anglican Communion has come from provinces outside of the Episcopal Church. Only a minority of Anglican provinces have supported the Episcopal Church's drift toward homosexuality. Present at the service was the most powerful Anglican official on the continent of South America, The Most Rev. Orlando Santos de Oliviera, primate of the Episcopal Church of Brazil.

At least two candidates for presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church also attended: the Rt. Rev. Stacy Sauls, Bishop of Lexington, and the Rt. Rev. Edwin "Ted" Gulick, Bishop of Kentucky. The presiding bishop election will be held at the convention on Sunday. Other diocesan bishops who joined in the Eucharist included the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, Bishop of North Carolina; the Rt. Rev. Ken Price of Southern Ohio; and Robinson of New Hampshire.

Bishop Robinson was presented with the Louie Crew Award by Rev. Russell on behalf of Integrity for his notable accomplishment as the first gay bishop.

Virtue Online spoke with Dr. Crew after the Homosexual Eucharist on Friday evening. Louie Crew founded Integrity in 1974 as a caucus for "full inclusion of LGBT persons in the Episcopal Church and our equal access to its rites." Asked how the movement he founded had become so successful, Crew replied, "I only listen to the Holy Spirit. It's much bigger than I am, and I knew that right at the beginning."

Crew suggested that inclusion is not the issue in the Episcopal Church today, and that the new frontier of the gay ministry is to expand its own movement within the church. "It's never been a movement to get into the church. It's already done that. It's a movement to bring others to it."

In essence, homosexuals are now using their place in the Episcopal Church as a witness in order to convert others to homosexuality. Including bisexuals means they are next.

The program for the Friday evening service included a Scripture passage from Acts 11:1-18: "What God has made clean, you must not call profane," and a Gospel reading from Luke 12:1-12: "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy."

The Rev. Michael Hopkins, a former president of Integrity, led the congregation in the "Prayers of the People:"

"We give thanks for all the blessings of this life, [silence] especially for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons you have called to witness openly to the fullness of their creation in your image. We give thanks for those who have found grace to live together in loving and faithful partnership, awaiting in hope the day when their unions will be recognized on earth as they are before you. May we each become ever more thankful for the gifts you have given us."

The service became a fundraiser for Integrity when current president Rev. Susan Russell announced a freewill offering before the sharing of the Sacrament. "Empty all of your wallets and purses, and we'll have ushers standing outside telling you where the nearest ATMs are," Russell joked.

And there was plenty of cash for the homosexual church lobby by the time the plates had passed through. Declining though the Episcopal Church may be in attendance and outreach, its homosexual lobby is expanding rapidly.

It is a new day in the Episcopal Church, according to Crew. The homosexual movement, he said, is "going to work this out by wiring the circuits." Citing an example from the Gospel, Crew paraphrased the words of Christ as they relate to the homosexual cause: "I'm talking about being given a new spirit."

And indeed a very different spirit was on show at Trinity Episcopal Church on Friday than the one recognizable to the founders of that church nearly 190 years ago.

Trinity Episcopal Church was founded in 1817 by the Rev. Philander Chase, a frontier missionary and Ohio's first Episcopal bishop. Chase founded two religious colleges, served as presiding bishop over the Episcopal Church of the United States, and was the first Protestant to preach in the city of New Orleans.

Old Philander Chase was born during the American Revolution. His was the classical Anglican faith of the Founding Fathers.

In a Good Friday Sermon about Isaiah 53 that Philander Chase preached as a young man, he criticized those who disregarded the truth of the Bible in his day. "If the mere assertions, (of people, who talk much but read little, and think still less,) are to be the grounds of our exploding truths, and of giving up our belief in matters of the highest importance, which have been examined and credited by the wisest of men, Where shall we end?"

Bishop Chase, if he were to return to his old Trinity Church for Eucharist this evening, would find there the answer to his question. For there the Episcopal Church may have had its end.

END

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