Note: Walter Righter, soon after ordination as a priest in the early 1950s, served as rector of All Saints' Church in Aliquippa PA in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Word has been received that the Rt. Rev. Walter Righter, retired bishop of Iowa, died this morning. Bishop Righter was tried for heresy in 1996 for ordaining a partnered gay man.
In the fall of 1990, Barry Stopfel was ordained a deacon in the Diocese of Newark. Stopfel is gay and, at the time of his ordination, was living "in a sexual partnership" with another man. The assistant bishop of Newark, the Rt. Revd Walter Righter, was facing a church court over his decision to ordain the gay man. On May 15, 1996, an Episcopal Church court dismissed charges against Righter. The Court held that neither the doctrine nor the discipline of the Church currently prohibit the ordination of a non-celibate homosexual person living in a committed relationship.
Thirty six bishops signed a statement in support of Righter's actions:
"We the undersigned recognize the witness of the Rt. Rev. Walter C. Righter to the Christ who lived, died and rose for the salvation of all. Walter Righter's trial is a trial of the Gospel, a trial of justice, a trial of fairness, and a trial of the church. We stand with Bishop Righter. We feel charged as Bishop Righter is charged. We feel on trial as Bishop Righter is on trial. Should he be found guilty, we are guilty. Should Bishop Righter be sentenced, we will accept his sentence as our own."
The Rt. Rev. Walter Cameron Righter
October 23, 1923 - September 11, 2011
The funeral will be Thursday at 11:00 a.m. at Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, PA.