embed GeneThe Melbourne and Sydney Anglican dioceses have denied snubbing the world’s first openly gay bishop during his speaking tour in Australia.

American Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson is speaking at a number of community events in Newcastle, Sydney and Melbourne until June 2.

The bishop wrote to both dioceses to inform them of his visit but local organisers were disappointed that he had not been formally invited by either diocese to take any services at an Anglican parish.

According to spokespeople from both dioceses, Robinson specifically stated that he would not be functioning in an official capacity at an Anglican parish during his visit.

In 2008, the bishop was controversially not invited to the once-a-decade Lambeth conference where hundreds of leaders from the Anglican Church and its denominations meet from around the world.

While Robinson will be attending one function held at Melbourne’s St Mark’s Anglican Church, he will only be speaking after the service.

A Melbourne Anglican Diocese spokesperson said Robinson was “theoretically” still allowed to hold a service.

Sydney’s Paddington Uniting Church will be hosting Robinson but Reverend Ben Gilmour said he was disappointed Robinson would not be officially welcomed.

“In some ways it would be helpful to have some good dialogue… so that Gene’s voice could at least be part of the conversation,” he said.

Gilmour said he believed it would be inconsistent for the Sydney diocese to welcome Robinson since they had made such an issue of his confirmation in 2003.

When Robinson was consecrated to a bishop in 2003, Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen wrote: “This catastrophic decision cannot simply be allowed to pass away into history as a one-off aberration.”

In Melbourne, St Martin’s Community Church Pastor Cath McKinney said she was also disappointed but added that the people who needed to hear him the most would have the opportunity

“A formal welcome and an invite leads to dialogue and leads to conversation,” she said.

“The lack of the formal invite for me personally is a disappointment because it feels like something is not able to happen in a formal space.

“People from the [LGBTI] community need to hear how he stays strong, need to be touched by his pastoral compassion and inclusive heart; they need to be reminded that they are loved.”

Robinson will be speaking at a public forum at Melbourne’s the Edge, Federation Square where he will be discussing the importance of gay marriage on May 30.

INFO: www.generobinsonvisit.org.au

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