The Concord Monitor gave considerable coverage to the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire: for all the right reasons.
It was in the last 20 seconds of the last game of Rob Hirschfeld’s middle school football career when he went in for a tackle and came out with a broken neck.
He was 13 and the pain was so excruciating that even today, he can’t find words to describe it. “I could feel pain in my shoulders, but I couldn’t move,” he said. “I had no strength, no ability to move my arms.”
For Hirschfeld, who is now 51 and today will be consecrated the bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, the injury was as spiritually formative as it was physically debilitating.
He was a thoughtful kid, his family says – an acolyte at the local Episcopal church, a top student who stood up to bullies.
But the accident and long recovery shook his adolescent sense of invulnerability and left him feeling angry, hurt and abandoned by God, setting him on a path of rage and doubt so deep that he left the church he would eventually lead.
This was the beginning of an in depth feature in Saturday’s paper by Molly A. K. Connors of the formative life of Rob Hirschfeld, the person who will follow The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson as the Diocesan Bishop of NH.
In the same paper was an op-ed by Cherie Konyha Green reflecting on the past nine years in the Diocese:
This time around, we probably won’t have to run a gauntlet of angry protesters on our way into the ceremony. I doubt the Concord police will have to sweep the Capitol Center for explosives. It is highly unlikely that anyone will stand up during the liturgy and describe intimate bedroom matters in graphic detail. Odds are, this bishop will be able to stir his coffee without bumping into a CNN camera. In fact, the soon-to-be Right Reverend Rob might not even need a bulletproof vest under his vestments.
It happens that the newly elected bishop is a heterosexual.
This mere fact means that the world might go back to leaving New Hampshire alone, outside of presidential primary season, which doesn’t make much more sense to New Hampshire Episcopalians than the toxic, global kerfuffle that arose from Robinson’s election. Flatlanders expressed amazement that “conservative” New Hampshire had taken such a “radical” step, but it was completely in harmony with our state motto: Live Free or Die.
We voted for Robinson because he was a hardworking, dedicated priest who understood us. We simply thought he was the best man for the job, and we were right. Under his leadership, New Hampshire has been energized to be a beacon of God’s love to the world.
The Concord Monitor continued their coverage with a Sunday account of the consecration, “He’s Following Jesus”, by Megan Doyle:
To some, Rob Hirschfeld may have seemed like a low-profile choice to succeed Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, as head of the Diocese of New Hampshire.
But in her sermon yesterday during Hirschfeld’s consecration, the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas assured the congregation that while “he’s white, he’s a man and he’s straight,” the new bishop is anything but “safe.”
“Rob is a person of prayer,” Bullitt-Jonas said. “And anyone who returns day after day to the holy mountain of prayer and lets God’s creative light pour into him or her day after day, that sort of person is going to be less and less satisfied with the status quo, less and less willing to settle for doing things the same old way because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
“Bishop Gene Robinson and the Diocese of New Hampshire have been courageous in bearing witness to the liberating love of God over the past nine years,” she said. “I’m sure that when Gene announced his plan to retire, some people were hoping that in its next election of a bishop, the diocese would chose someone safe. Well, I’ve known and worked with Rob for a good long while, and I have to say he’s not safe.”
Her declaration was met with loud applause from the crowd of about 1,100 gathered yesterday at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord.