Reverend V. Gene Robinson became the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Church when he was consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire on Sunday.

The consecration proceeded despite weeks of protests from conservative Anglicans around the world, who have threatened to split from the church since Robinson was elected by the Episcopal (US Anglican) General Convention in August.

Bishop Robinson told the crowd of 4,000, It’s not about me; it’s about so many other people who find themselves at the margins -¦ Our presence here is a welcome sign for those people to be brought into the centre, Reuters reported.

Three protesters announ-ced their objections, one of whom was silenced by presiding bishop Frank Griswold for reciting a list of statistics relating to gay sex acts.

The archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams issued a statement announcing provisions were being made for Anglican churchgoers alienated by decisions which appear to go against Catholic order or biblical teaching.

Williams wrote that divisions that are arising are a matter of deep regret but asserted that the autonomy of Anglican provinces is an important principle.

A number of Anglican communions around the world, such as Kenya and Tanzania, have announced a break with the entire US Episcopal Church, The Australian reported.

However, a coalition of African, Asian and South American primates resolved this week not to split, but announced they were in impaired communion with the US Episcopal Church.

The group (calling themselves Global South) also said they would not recognise Bishop Robinson’s clerical status, a move echoed by the Anglican archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, who told Reuters, As far as I am concerned, he is not a bishop. Jensen said the move had permanently divided the church.

Fabian Lo Schiavo told Sydney Star Observer Jensen’s rejection of Robinson was an attack on Anglican traditions. Lo Schiavo is a former member of the Australian Anglican Synod and of AngGays, a now-defunct Sydney group for gay and lesbian Anglicans.

The same democratic procedure that permitted him [Jensen] to be elected to the position he occupies in Sydney was used by the people of New Hampshire, through their synod to elect Gene Robinson -¦ Lo Schiavo told the Star. Tough luck, basically.

Lo Schiavo added the consecration of Robinson was recognition of a long-time gay and lesbian Anglican presence.

It’s a sign of hope for all of us within the church that some parts of the church have the courage to recognise publicly what has always been the case, which is that gay and lesbian people have been serving in every part of the ministry for centuries, Lo Schiavo said.

Now we have an honest and open acknowledgment of that, he said.

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