[Episcopal News Service] St. Thomas’ Parish in Washington, D.C., has created an outreach endowment fund honoring Bishop Gene Robinson and to mark his upcoming 20th anniversary as a bishop and 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. The fund is named the Bishop Gene Robinson Endowment for Community Outreach.
Robinson, the retired bishop of New Hampshire, currently serves the parish as bishop-in-residence and often preaches during Sunday services.
In a Sept. 6 press release, the parish said the endowment will support the charity and justice work Robinson has long championed, including supportive housing for LGBTQ+ refugees in the Washington area.
Robinson became the first openly gay bishop in The Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion when he was ordained and consecrated bishop coadjutor of New Hampshire on Nov. 2, 2003. For decades he has been vocal in his support of LGBTQ+ people inside and outside the church.
“I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Bishop Gene’s courageous and generous spirit than the Bishop Gene Robinson Endowment for Community Outreach,” said the Rev. Lisa Saunders Ahuja, St. Thomas’ rector, in a press release. The fund “will continue to fulfill St. Thomas Parish’s commitment to active care for the oppressed and most vulnerable amongst our neighbors as we model courageous love, compassionate justice and self-giving sacrifice.”
About the new fund Robinson said, “Much has changed for the better over the last 20 years, but there is still much work to be done. Recent attacks on transgender youth and attempts to roll back hard-won LGBTQ+ rights tell us that our advocacy and pastoral care for victims of injustice must continue with a renewed urgency. This fund will make a difference.”
Robinson retired as New Hampshire’s bishop in 2017 and had served as vice president of religion and senior pastor for the Chautauqua Institution until October 2021.
His election as bishop coadjutor of New Hampshire in June 2003 and his subsequent consecration made his name known across The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion and beyond. In response to his election and other theological differences, some conservative Episcopal bishops and clergy led some members of their congregations and dioceses out of The Episcopal Church. The election was also one factor in rising tensions in the communion over the ordination of women and human sexuality.
Conservative bishops in the Anglican Communion opposed his consecration, and Robinson was excluded from official meetings of the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Anglican Communion bishops, although he did attend as an observer.
In 2016, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby apologized to LGBTQ+ people for the hurt and pain they have experienced by the Anglican Communion over the years.
St. Thomas’ is accepting contributions to the fund and will announce the total amount raised during a special celebration during the weekend of Oct. 7.