Last night I went with a small group of Friends to hear Gene Robinson at the Episcopal Cathedral…what a dynamic speaker!
He spoke of ministry to the marginalized…especially gay men and lesbian women. The cathedral was packed. He spoke of his ministry to the women’s prison in New Hampshire, and the changes that have occured because they heard that they were loved by God through Christ…and through him was forgiveness and acceptance. He celebrated the Eucharist for them each Christmas Eve…women who have felt no one cares about them and judges them for their situation…he said “No wonder Jesus calls us to visit those in prison.”
He spoke about his ministry to Catholic priests…he facilitates a secret retreat every year for Catholic priests…someplace they can come together and pray and heal…a safe place to discuss the problems they face as Catholics, priests, and gay men…the retreat has grown to over 75 Catholic priests each year…always the retreats are at different times…different locations…always away and isolated…and always a joy to see men who have so much to loose take a step of faith just to be connected with each other in acceptance and love.
Friends have a long history of supporting those who have been marginalized…Friends were the first religious group to stand against slavery here in America…they were the first group who proclaimed “in Christ there is neither male nor female…” and we have always had female ministers…now for over 350 years…they were the first to stand with gay men and lesbian women and allow them full inclusion into our Meetings for Worship…in the '50’s…a small group of Friends walked with Ghandi and a larger group with Martin Luther King Jr…a group of Friends went to Germany to meet with Hitler to plea for the Jews when other religious bodies said “nothings going on”…Friends helped Jews escape and settle in safe lands…
I was proud to be among those Friends who shook Bishop Robinson’s hand last night…there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as he spoke of love, mercy, kindess, peace and willing to take up the mantle of suffering if need be for equality for all people…not just gay people, but every race, kindred, tongue and people…to live before them the Love of God…and if need be to bear this Love even to death…he’s recieved many death threats and been subject to violence…I found him to be a kind and gentle soul who exhibited the Love of God in Christ.