Gay bishop takes message to Lambeth

July 25, 2008 at 11:01 PM

CANTERBURY, England, July 25 (UPI) -- The first openly gay bishop in the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion is attending a gathering of bishops in Britain, accompanied by a bodyguard.

The Rev. Gene Robinson was specifically not invited to attend the Lambeth Conference, the gathering of Anglican bishops held every 10 years in England. But he is there, talking to his colleagues, although he cannot participate in formal meetings.

"I would rather be on the inside," he told The Washington Post. "It's never OK to be relegated to the fringe by someone."

Robinson's 2003 consecration as bishop of New Hampshire has threatened to split the Anglican Communion, a loose confederation of national churches headed by Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, and the U.S. church. More than 200 bishops, including many from Africa, stayed away from Lambeth, and some churches and dioceses in the United States and Canada have put themselves under African and South American bishops.

Robinson said he hopes to convince more people it is possible to be "unabashedly gay and unabashedly Christian." In the meantime, his constant companion in England is a retired police officer.

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