campus news & events

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson to Address the Role of Religion in the 21st Century in Public Event at Colby-Sawyer College

Colby-Sawyer will host The Right Reverend V. Eugene Robinson, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, for a presentation and discussion of the role of religion in the 21st century.

Bishop Robinson will present “Does Religion Make Sense in the 21st Century?” on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. at the college's Sawyer Center Theatre. Following his presentation, the bishop will engage the audience in a question-and-answer session. The event, sponsored by Colby-Sawyer's Cultural Events Committee, is free and the public is invited to attend.

V. Gene Robinson was elected the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire on June 7, 2003, after serving as canon to the Ordinary (assistant to the bishop) for nearly 18 years. He was consecrated as a bishop on All Saints Sunday, Nov. 2, 2003, and was invested as the New Hampshire Diocese's bishop on March 7, 2004. As the first openly gay priest to be ordained as a bishop in the Episcopal Church, Robinson has been both heralded as a civil rights leader and at the center of controversy within the larger Episcopal Church.

A 1969 graduate of the University of the South, in Sewanee, Tenn., Robinson holds a B.A. in American Studies/History. In 1973, he completed the M.Div. degree at the General Theological Seminary in New York, after which he was ordained deacon, and then priest, serving as curate at Christ Church, Ridgewood, N.J.

In 1975, Robinson moved to New Hampshire, where he co-owned and directed a horseback riding summer camp for girls. As founding director of Sign of the Dove Retreat Center, in Temple, N.H., he led retreat programs for vestries, diocesan committees, intergenerational groups and all kinds of parish groups.

From 1978 to 1985, he served as the coordinator of Youth Ministries for the seven dioceses of New England, with two years on the National Youth Ministries Development Team, where he helped originate the national Episcopal Youth Event. From 1983 until his election as bishop, he also coordinated all cooperative programs between the seven dioceses of New England as the executive secretary of Province I.

Clergy wellness has long been a focus of Robinson's ministry, and in the 1990s he developed the “Being Well in Christ” conference model for The Cornerstone Project, and led clergy conferences in more than 20 dioceses in the United States and Canada. He initiated “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, utilizing his skills in congregational dynamics, conflict resolution and mediation.

Co-author of three AIDS education curricula for youth and adults, Robinson has worked to educate people about AIDS in the United States and in Africa (Uganda and South Africa). He has been an advocate for anti-racism training in the diocese and wider church. He also helped build the Diocese of New Hampshire's partnership with the New Hampshire 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.

Robinson has been particularly active in his advocacy for full civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gender people. Working at the state, national and international levels, he has spoken and lobbied for equal protection under the law and marriage rights. While he has received awards that recognize his efforts in addressing homophobia, such as the Stephen F. Kolzak Media Award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Robinson has also been the subject of controversy in the Church. In 2008, he was pointedly not invited to the Lambeth Conference by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

Robinson was invited by Barack Obama to give the invocation at the opening inaugural ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial on Jan. 18, 2009. 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 and a board member of the N.H. Children's Alliance. He holds two honorary doctorates and has received numerous awards from national civil rights organizations.

His story is featured in the 2007 feature-length documentary, “For the Bible Tells Me So.” (Colby-Sawyer College will show this film on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. in Clements Hall of the Curtis L. Ivey Science Center). In 2008 Robinson published a book about his experiences, “In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God” (Seabury Books, New York).

To learn more about events at Colby-Sawyer, visit Upcoming Events.

-Jessica K. McLavey '10

Jessica K. McLavey is an English major and an intern in College Communications at Colby-Sawyer College.

Colby-Sawyer, founded in 1837, is a comprehensive liberal arts college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Students learn in small classes through a select array of programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with pre-professional experience.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000