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CNN BREAKING NEWS

House of Deputies Depates Gay Bishop

Aired August 3, 2003 - 16:22   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now we are going to take you live back to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where debate is going on at the Episcopal's general convention right now. They are hearing from members of the public on whether they believe that the Reverend Gene Robinson should be elected as an Episcopal bishop. Of course, the Reverend Robinson is the first openly gay bishop to be in this position. Right now we are hearing from people who are both for and against. This apparently is someone who is for.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...and bishops I know nothing about, trusting the discerning work of the dioceses that have called them as chief pastors. We wait a month to ensure nothing comes to light to disqualify them. For once I can vote with full confidence because I know that Canon Robinson has lived a life of personal integrity and faithfulness.

Years ago, Gene and I worked on the youth AIDS curriculum of the church. His help allowed me to fulfill my commitment to a project that I really cared about, teaching me to overcome institutional obstacles without condescension, an experience I'd not often had as a younger woman of color. Then and since, I've seen the gifts that equip him for this office.

He cares deeply about the church, its teachings, making it come alive for a new generation inside and out. We need not fear. God will keep god's church in unity if we follow the promptings of the spirit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Microphone 5.

DAVID ROSEBERRY, DEPUTY FROM DALLAS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is David Roseberry. I'm a deputy from the diocese of Dallas. I'd like to address the chair and, of course, the seated deputies. You've heard the testimonies. You've read the literature. I'm sure you've prayed the prayers. And I've only one short thought to add.

You're deputies. You're not delegates. You're deputies. You don't carry water for anyone else. You have an awesome privilege, honor, and enormous responsibility to carry out the intentions of your own heart with regard to the welfare of the church. And if you have searched the scriptures and if you've searched your own heart and you have a doubt, a hesitation, a lingering question about this, I respectfully submit that that means no. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Microphone 8.

MISS GAYSO, OFFICIAL YOUTH PRESENCE: Miss Gayso (ph) Official Youth Presence. Good morning, Mr. President and House of Deputies. I made it a point when I arrived here in Minneapolis to talk with Gene Robinson and speak with him. And why? Because as unsure of what I thought, what I felt, and what my soul was telling me. Many, I'm sure, can say how Gene is a very pleasant person. But if it was just about that, he wouldn't be here.

Gene is qualified to be bishop, as many of you have heard. Not only that, he heartfully and soulfully is only doing what he needs to be doing, following his calling. So who are we to deny him of this? I ask, then, why has Gene been so controversial? Is it because he's openly gay? If so, may I ask if it would have been better to oblige the Episcopal community and hidden who he is?

I'm not sure -- I am sure those of you who can -- who oppose can quote scripture and say how the Bible speaks it. But much of the Bible, not all of it, was written for people of the time. Let me put this into perspective. Bishop Gail Harris said, quote, "you can just -- you can't just stop with the Bible. The Bible said slavery is okay. Do you want to put me back in chains? I don't think so," unquote.

So if, then, can we sit here and allow the mockery of Gene, may we then put blacks back in chains or women back into second-rate roles? Are we the ones to pass judgment? No. Gene has shown me truly that no matter what it takes, if god feels it right and you feel his calling, then you must follow it no matter what it takes, and he has. Brothers and sisters, I ask not to pass personal judgment but to keep in mind for yourself, for others here in convention, and for the entire church what you feel in your heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Microphone 5.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deputy Sontz (ph), diocese of West Virginia. In 1979, the last time a general convention considered the matter of sexually active persons in ordained ministry, the general convention stated that, we believe it is not appropriate for this church to ordain a practicing homosexual or any person who is engaged in heterosexual relations outside of marriage.

On July 6th of this year, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, a man respected by all who encounter him for his thoughtfulness, said on the similar matter of Canon Jeffrey John that there is, quote, "an obvious problem in the consecration of a bishop whose ministry will not be readily received by a significant portion of the Christians in England and elsewhere."

Archbishop Williams said the pending consecration of Canon John threatened the unity of the church, our ecumenical relations with other portions of the body of Christ, and the mission of the church worldwide. Because there is not consensus within the Anglican Communion or in the larger ecumenical community, that it is time to ordain non-celibate gay and lesbian persons, he further observed that these fractures would impoverish us as a church in every way.

This problem is not only in the Anglican Communion. It is also in our portion of the body of Christ. And to proceed with consent would do real injury to all members of the body here and elsewhere. I would respectfully urge the House to reject the motion to consent to the consecration of the bishop elect of New Hampshire. Thank you.

CALLEBS: Okay. We have been listening to delegates of the delegation -- deputies of the delegation, rather, who are speaking now in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the general convention of the Episcopal church that's going on up there. They are considering what many are calling a watershed moment perhaps for the church, whether they will elect the Reverend Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop of the church.

There's been a lot of concern among many church members that this could be very divisive. It could in effect tear the church apart in the coming months and years ahead. We will dip back into more of that in just a bit.

Meanwhile, everyone likes luxurious things, and some people make them under the most bizarre circumstances. That's nothing new. But would you buy the work of a murderer? Have you already? That story's coming up.

And coming up at the top of the hour, find out how much you should worry about the latest computer worm making headlines. Stay with us, everyone.

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