News broke this weekend regarding the impending retirement of The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, IX Bishop of New Hampshire, taking place in 2012.

Much of the news and blogsphere have quoted the bishop as someone who accepted, and bore the burden of being the first open, and authentic “Gay” bishop in the Episcopal Church, and the wider Anglican body. Others writing about the announcement focused on the pressures placed upon him, the death threats, and the burdens of his witness.

For his work over the past 35 years to the Diocese of New Hampshire, I applaud, and offer thanks for bringing the love of God, embodied as Christ’s example to all people. That being said…I stand and applaud his choice for the next phase of his ministry, reaching out to those who represent the “New Normals” of the world.

New Normals is a term coined by The Rev. Amy Pringle, and the vision team of St. George’s Episcopal Church, La Canada, CA to define the majority of people who have never embraced religious formation or have little or zero understanding of how Christian formation can work itself into daily living, and life’s sacred weave.

Bishop Robinson, upon his retirement, did not say he was leaving ministry, he will merely cease from carrying the responsibility of overseeing the daily operations of the Diocese of New Hampshire; its people, and the clergy under his care. In his statement released he said:

“For my own ministry as your bishop, both within and beyond the diocese, I will continue my work of evangelizing the unchurched and the “de-churched.”  I get to talk to probably more unchurched people than any other bishop in The Episcopal Church.  On college campuses, speaking to various public forums, and also in my work with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, I get the opportunity to make the case for God and for God’s Church – either to those who have never known God’s unimaginable love, or to those who have been ill-treated, in the name of a judgmental God, and who have left the Church.”

I suspect he will run into more “new normals” than those who have left the church, and this awareness will spark new epiphanies, and greater insight into those whose lives yearn for something they can’t quite name, and he might be able to lend a voice to words not quite formed.

As one who has spent six years reaching out to others on behalf of the Episcopal Church, not as a way to gain numbers, but to help people realize the loving arms of God as a means of authenticity, I welcome his new focus on ministry with happiness, and excitement.  It is also endearing to watch a bishop of the church step into the shoes of the deacon, becoming a messenger, heralding God’s love, and God’s power found in the word, “yes.”