New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson has described being the Anglican Church's first openly gay bishop as a “remarkable opportunity.”

In an exit interview with the AP, Robinson, 65, said it took him a few years to realize that he had been given a unique opportunity to advocate for equality.

“I'd been given this really remarkable opportunity and it would be selfish of me not to be the best steward of that opportunity,” he said. “We went from my consecration, which set off this international controversy, to nine years later seeing gay, lesbian and transgender congregants welcome at all levels of the church, including bishop.”

Robinson, who was elected in 2003, announced his retirement in 2010. His successor, A. Robert Hirschfeld, takes over the pastoral staff in a ceremony at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Concord on Saturday, January 5.

Robinson's installment spurred controversy in the church. He has said he received death threats.

In 2010, a second openly gay bishop, Mary Glasspool, was elected.

“I never thought about retirement until she was elected. Now I can move on to do other things,” he said.

“I leave this job loving it more than when I started. I think the excitement about the future is finally outweighing the grief over the loss,” Robinson said.