The Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire has barred a retired Massachusetts priest who opposed the consecration of an openly gay bishop from continuing to oversee a small parish there.
Diocesan officials said the Rev. Donald R. Wilson, 72, was prohibited from continuing to work at the Church of the Redeemer in Rochester, N.H., after he refused to meet with the bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt. Rev. Douglas E. Theuner.
Wilson's supporters said they believe he is being punished for speaking out against the consecration of an openly gay priest, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, as a bishop in New Hampshire.
"What's happening is that if you oppose having V. Gene Robinson as a bishop over you, then you're marked by the hierarchy in New Hampshire," said Jerry DeLemus, a parishioner at Redeemer.
But Mike Barwell, a spokesman for the diocese, said Wilson was removed because of his poor relationship with Theuner, not because of his position on Robinson's consecration.
"Any congregation may be in disagreement and is not threatened," Barwell said. "Gene and Doug have both pledged to work carefully with any congregation that has questions about this."
Wilson, 72, is the former rector of St. Paul's Church in Peabody. Retired and living in Berwick, Maine, he had been attending church in Rochester, and has been informally filling in since the rector retired last spring. In a telephone interview, Wilson declined to describe the nature of his dispute with Theuner, but acknowledged that last week Theuner asked to meet with him, and he refused to do so unless Theuner would travel to Rochester.
"We're having a confrontation, and certainly the consecration was at the heart of it, but there were other things, too, and I'm not even sure what they are," Wilson said. "Communication is not good."
Michael Paulson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.