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 N.H. Church Splits Apart Over Homosexual Bishop

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ROCHESTER, N.H. - Hymns were raised to the heavens from two parts of town Sunday after a church split apart over the election of the first openly gay bishop to head an Episcopal diocese.

Bishop V. Gene Robinson assumed leadership of the Diocese of New Hampshire last year, shocking many conservative Episcopalians and Anglicans worldwide.

Since then, many members of the Church of the Redeemer threatened to leave the congregation unless Robinson relinquished authority over the church in Rochester, about 30 miles east of Concord. Thirty-six members voted this week to leave. Just three voted to stay.

In response, nearby Grace Baptist Church invited Episcopalians fleeing from Redeemer to attend a joint service.

At the same time, Redeemer held services for a handful of remaining members, who were joined by dozens of supporters from other Episcopal churches and by Robinson and his partner, Mark Andrew.

"Today is a very joyous day for me," said Katie Trafton, 18, who left Redeemer with her family. "It's been a very big battle ... I'm very proud to be part of the family that stood up for Christ."


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