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2005 Spring Sidore Lecture: Bishop Gene Robinson Will Discuss 'Moral Values'

KEENE, N.H. 1/25/05 - V. Gene Robinson was invested as the ninth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire on March 7, 2004. He was the first openly gay man in the Episcopal Church to be elected a bishop, an appointment that was received with adulation in his community and with opposition from other churches in the U.S. and overseas.

Bishop Robinson will be this semester’s Sidore lecturer at Keene State College. He will speak about “Moral Values: They’re Not Just for the Religious Right Anymore” on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. in the Mabel Brown Room of the Student Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The life and work of Bishop Robinson challenge the idea that being gay and being moral are mutually exclusive. In a recent interview, discussing the controversy of his appointment, Bishop Robinson said that issues related to sexuality, and in particular gay and lesbian people, have become the “whipping boy” of the religious right. To those who are appalled that a gay man should be ordained as a bishop, Robinson said, “Come to New Hampshire and see; come and see the life and vitality and excitement in the church in New Hampshire and then decide whether this is of God or not.”

A graduate of the University of the South, Sewanee, Tenn., Bishop Robinson earned his bachelor’s degree in American studies and history. In 1973, he completed his master’s degree in divinity at the General Theological Seminary in New York, was ordained deacon, and then priest, serving as curate at Christ Church, Ridgewood, N.J. After moving to New Hampshire in 1975, Bishop Robinson co-owned and directed a horseback riding summer camp for girls. As founding director of Sign of the Dove Retreat Center in Temple, he led retreat programs for vestries, diocesan committees, intergenerational groups, and all kinds of parish groups.

From 1978 to 1985, Bishop Robinson was Youth Ministries Coordinator for the seven dioceses of New England, serving two years on the National Youth Ministries Development Team, where he helped originate the national Episcopal Youth Event. From 1983 until his election in 2004, Bishop Robinson also served as executive secretary of Province I, coordinating all cooperative programs between the seven dioceses of New England.

Clergy wellness has long been a focus of Bishop Robinson’s ministry. In the nineties he developed the “Being Well in Christ” conference model for The Cornerstone Project and led clergy conferences in over 20 dioceses in the U.S. and Canada. He initiated “A Fresh Start,” a two-year mentoring program for all clergy in new positions in New Hampshire, and co-authored the Fresh Start curriculum, now in use in nearly half of the dioceses of the Episcopal Church. Much of his ministry has focused on helping congregations and clergy, especially in times of conflict, using his skills in congregational dynamics, conflict resolution and mediation.

Bishop Robinson is the co-author of three AIDS education curricula for youth and adults and has done AIDS work in the U.S. and in Uganda and South Africa. He has been an advocate for anti-racism training in the diocese and wider Church, helped build the Diocese of New Hampshire’s close working partnership with the N.H. Community Loan Fund, advocated for debt relief for the world’s most impoverished nations, and lobbied for socially responsible investment within and beyond the Church. He is a past member of the Board of the New Hampshire Endowment for Health, which works for access to health care for the uninsured. He currently serves as a trustee of the Church Pension Fund.

Bishop Robinson is the father of two grown daughters. He lives with his partner, Mark Andrew, who is employed by the N.H. Department of Safety.

The Sidore Memorial Foundation and the Sidore Series have been established to support campus presentations by speakers on emerging ideas and to enhance faculty efforts to challenge students and the wider community to participate in dialogue around original and sometimes controversial issues facing society.

For more information, contact Steve Clark, assistant professor of psychology, at 603-358-2899.

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