Locals mixed on gay bishop leading church

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Aaron Raulerson, the new priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Demopolis, believes the issue got far more attention from the media than from anyone else.

Last week, Rev. Gene Robinson was confirmed as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, and media from all over the globe covered the confirmation as the top story of the day.

The move sparked a cry of dissention among conservative Episcopalians, but did little to change Raulerson’s take on his mission in Demopolis.

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Locally, having an openly gay bishop in the church hasn’t had a big impact on the way some at Trinity view the confirmation.

Mem Webb, a member at Trinity, agreed with Raulerson.

According to Raulerson, the power of the Episcopal Church comes from the diocese, and "what they do in New Hampshire doesn’t affect Alabama."

Robinson, who is divorced and has lived with his partner for 14 years, was actually approved by Episcopalians in New Hampshire. His national confirmation conforms with rules in the Episcopal Church that both houses of the church’s General Convention consent to the election.

While Raulerson believes there are other issues in Demopolis that deserve more immediate attention, others in his parish don’t feel quite the same way.

Jerry and Martha Jackson, also members of Trinity Episcopal, don’t like the direction of the church after its confirmation of Robinson last week.

Jackson said he has spoken with a number of people in the Demopolis parish, and many of them feel the same way.

As for Jackson, his trouble with the move relates more toward how young men will be raised.

Jackson was clear to say that gays shouldn’t be loved and respected, but he doesn’t believe they deserve a place in the leadership of the church."

After his confirmation, Robinson spoke with the media and told the Washington Post that he doesn’t argue with the scriptures about the role of gays in the church.