Pastor abstains from comment

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 7, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

The confirmation of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in this country’s Episcopal Church, continues to be felt quite strongly by both those for and against the decision.

Nationally, the action has even led to talk of church split by members upset by the confirmation.


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Locally, the Rev. Vance Mann, pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, says members of his congregation have expressed opinions on both sides of the issue.

For now, Mann is abstaining from giving his opinion.

&uot;I’m not sure how helpful it would be for me to comment one way or the other as a leader of St. Paul’s Church on how I stand,&uot; Mann said. &uot;It could at this stage have a polarizing effect.

&uot;I would like to hear from folks where they are on the issue – their concerns, their fears,&uot; he said. &uot;How can I, as a pastor of the community, be most helpful in addressing this issue in a prayerful way that’s going to strengthen our relationship with God and one another? How can we build trust around this issue with each other and God?

&uot;I think down the road it will help people to know how I stand.&uot;

Mann said that Bishop David Bane, who leads this diocese, voted against the consecration.

But four lay clergy delegates (none of which came from Suffolk) in the territory voted for Robinson, he said.

St. Paul’s Episcopal is a parish church within the diocese of southern Virginia, which stretches from the Eastern Shore to Danville. It encompasses everything south of the James River, including Williamsburg and all of Hampton Roads, are included.

St. John’s in Chuckatuck, Glebe in Driver, and St. Mark’s in downtown are without full-time pastors.