Saturday marked an anniversary that I will long remember. It was ten years ago that The Most Reverend Frank Tracy Griswold and six co-consecrating bishops, laid hands on the Reverend V Gene Robinson, making him a Bishop of the Episcopal Church and the first one to be openly gay at the time of his consecration. It was a great day. It was a happy day. It was a giant step for Christians. It was also a day filled with controversy.
I wasn't there in New Hampshire that day, but I watched every single moment as it streamed live. It's interesting for me to revisit the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson because we really have come a long way since then. The Episcopal Church has since elected and consecrated another gay bishop, a woman. Other denominations are ordaining openly gay clergy. Marriage equality has come to many part of the world including 14 US states. Still there is a long way to go.
One thing that stands out in my mind is the danger that was feared. Robinson had to wear a bullet proof! They even had a contingency plan if shots were fired or a bomb went off. If Robinson was still alive there was another place he was to be taken to along with Presiding Bishop Griswold and two other bishops and the consecration would go forward with a photographer also present to prove it happened. I remember this because on such a joyful day there was also this dread.
Progress doesn't just have happy moments. There are those fearful, dreadful times too. We need to have our Gene Robinsons to help pave our ways. The Holy Spirit was there in that place and continues to be with us ready to kindle the fire in our hearts. We cannot give up. We have to continue to look to the future and to more wonderful moments like the days hands were laid on the man who, as a child had perfect Sunday School attendance for thirteen years and who, as an adult became a symbol of hope for all who value equality.