Portsmouth parishioners have thanked Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson for publicly admitting to his alcohol problems.

The bishop was praised after delivering a sermon at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, on saving the soul.

He told the Associated Press, “It feels like a homecoming, people are always friendly here, but they are unusually warm today.”

One churchgoer told of her brother’s battle with alcohol and drug addiction, and said he was given a sobriety chip from Alcoholics Anonymous, Mr Robinson subsequently pulled out his chip too, “I’m doing great,” he said.

He called his treatment so far “a blessing.”

“I feel that God was very much with me (in the first month), and this promises to be a wonderful journey.”

Mr Robinson is the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, last month he revealed he was being treated for alcohol addiction.