It’s an ecclesiastical twilight zone here in the Diocese of South West Florida.
Our Bishop, Dabney T Smith is an affable enough guy. There is nothing not to like about him. But his policies are confusing.
When he licensed me to serve in this Diocese he gladly accepted me for who I am, a Christian, a Priest, a Gay man.
But he vetoed a visit from the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Right Revd. Gene Robinson.
Bishop Smith was never entirely clear why he would not welcome Gene Robinson (our only openly gay Bishop (and a friend of mine).
It “seemed” that Bishop Smith was afraid of the “right wing, anti-women Priest, homophobic” Priests/ Congregations in his Diocese. It seemed that he caved in to their pressure (and maybe their dollars).
As I write, two Bishops from Nigeria are on a “mission” in this Diocese.
A norm of the Anglican Communion is that no Bishop visits a Diocese which is not her/his own without the permission/invitation of the Diocesan Bishop.
Yet these Nigerian Bishops are here without Bishop Smith’s invitation or permission.
They are sponsored by the aforementioned “right wing, anti-women Priest, homophobic” Priests/ Congregations in this Diocese.
Bishop Smith has been mute. In effect he has given a nod and a wink to the visit of the Bishops from Nigeria.
That nod and wink has been given to Bishops from the most virulently anti-gay Church in the Anglican Communion - the Church of Nigeria.
So my Bishop vetoed a visit from a Gay Bishop, but has acquiesced to the presence of two anti-Gay Bishops.
His actions leave me to feel very unsafe. Although my ministry has been found acceptable in four local parishes, I suspect that one complaint about my being gay would leave to a withdrawal of Bishop Smith’s licence.
Let it be so.
I’d rather be “out” and loved by G-d, than be “closeted” to please a Bishop.