Retiring NH Bishop Gene Robinson May Be Replaced By Another Gay Bishop

VirtueOnline reports that Dr. William Warwick Rich, a partnered bishop living in Boston, has been floated as a potential replacement for Gene Robinson (right, in magenta), the openly gay Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire who will be retiring in the near future.

Bishop Rich has quite the history of gay friendliness too—he began to come out at the end of college and then in 1992, he officiated a gay marriage. Writes VirtueOnline:

Like Bishop Robinson, Fr. Rich is very active in the gay community. On July 4, 1992, he presided at what he calls the “holy union” of two lesbian parishioners at Memorial Episcopal Church on Bolton Hill in Baltimore.

“I was careful to obtain all the necessary permissions to do this, including tacit permission to ‘do what you think is best pastorally’ from the bishop, as well as explicit permission from the rector and vestry of the parish,” Rich explained in his dossier to the New Hampshire Search Committee which asked about taking a prophetic stance.

“Several months after the service, The Baltimore Sun got wind of what had happened, and ran a front-page story about me and the service,” Fr. Rich explained. “As you might imagine, an enormous controversy erupted, both in the Diocese … and in the wider Baltimore community. In some ways, I think this was an early catalyst, pushing public opinion to ‘come out’ in support of civil marriage in Maryland.”

A gay priest who considers early adoption of gay-friendliness a prophetic move? Awesome.

Robinson, for his part, is currently heading to London to promote his Sundance doc Love Free Or Die at the BFI Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. It is his first time back since he was excluded from the conference by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, an experience that causes him to shed some tears in the doc.

He laments on the Huffington Post:

It has been four years since I was in England, present but not included in the once-a-decade Lambeth conference of Bishops in 2008. As the Archbishop of Canterbury plans for his retirement, I trust that the decision to exclude me will be one of the low points Rowan Williams reflects upon as he leaves office…

That I am not the first gay bishop should surprise no one. But I am the first gay bishop who has been honest about his orientation. And the punishment for being honest? I have the dubious distinction of being the first duly elected and consecrated Bishop excluded from Lambeth since the event began in the mid-19th century.

Will a gay bishop be allowed into Lambeth in 2018? We’re thinking yes, and we’re hoping it’s Fr. Rich.

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  • markymaus


    The picture you have listed for this article shows the now retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, DC, the Rt. Rev. John Chane. The bishop’s last name is even slightly visible on the sign on the side of the car he’s riding in.

    Although Bishop Chane has been an ardent supporter of the LGBT faithful and is a white man advanced in years wearing a magenta shirt, please do a Google search for Bishop Gene Robinson or the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson and replace the picture. Not all our bishops look alike (thanks be to God!).

    Mark W., reader from the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

  • kevininbuffalo

    Don’t know Bp. Chane but that is not Bp. Robinson!

  • stanJames

    Good for the Episcopal church. We need a good church for so many people so they can leave the catholic monstrosity, run by a pope who was born and grew up in Nazi germany

    Who UNexcommunicated a bishop williamson in 2009 – a holocaust denier

    Why – because this is what he learned growing up in Nazi germany

  • Wayne

    It is not just a fringe-group’s rumor that William Rich has been “floated” as a possible replacement; I am pleased to say that he is one of the three official finalists nominated to stand for election later this spring by The Diocese of New Hampshire. He is the Senior Associate Rector for Christian Formation at Trinity Church in Boston. More information can be found at

  • Tom

    Oh please let this be true! Peter Akinola’s head is gonna explode when he hears this. The bastard.

  • Phil Vollman

    I’m meeting Bishop Robinson tonight at a screening of the film!
    And all of the nominees for the Seat are gay-friendly. My personal hope is that Dean (Penelope) Bridges will be the next bishop.

Comments are closed.