Parting ways with the Episcopal Church
Sexuality | The denomination pushes out a bishop for holding the line on Biblical marriage
by Mary Jackson
Posted 10/30/20, 02:01 pm
Fourteen years to the day after becoming a bishop in New York, the Rt. Rev. William Love is resigning over questions of Biblical sexuality. A disciplinary panel on Oct. 2 concluded Love violated church rules by advising his clergy not to officiate at the wedding ceremonies of same-sex couples.
In an Oct. 24 address to the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, Love expressed disappointment and disagreement with the panel’s decision. He said he would take a one-month terminal sabbatical and then resign, effective Feb. 1, because he could not in good conscience agree to any disciplinary action. “I have tried to be faithful and obedient to God’s Holy Word as best I understand it, as revealed through the Holy Scriptures, recognizing its authority over my life and the ministry entrusted to me,” he said.
Love is one of a few remaining orthodox bishops in the Episcopal Church and the denomination’s only U.S. bishop to prohibit clergy from participating in same-sex wedding ceremonies. Other mainline denominations are also pushing out Biblically orthodox church leaders and congregations over the issue of homosexuality.
The Episcopal Church in 2015 amended its canons and liturgy to recognize same-sex marriages. A 2018 resolution required bishops to permit same-sex weddings in their dioceses.
That year, Love wrote an eight-page letter to local parishes challenging the denomination’s redefinition of marriage away from a Christian covenant between one man and one woman as outlined in the Bible and the church’s Book of Common Prayer. He said the 2018 resolution was not a properly constituted revision to the Book of Common Prayer and clergy in his diocese would not perform same-sex weddings.
In 2019, church officials barred Love from penalizing clergy involved in same-sex marriages and initiated a disciplinary hearing. In a 42-page document, the five-member panel determined Love violated his ordination vows and failed to abide by the “Discipline and Worship of the Church.”
The Communion Partners, a group of theologically orthodox bishops, issued a statement commending Love. They pointed to a resolution from the denomination’s 2018 General Convention that requested $75,000 go toward a task force to study how to best meet the needs of the minority of church members who held to the church’s “historic teaching” on marriage.
“If members of the church who hold the traditional teaching on the question of marriage have an ‘indispensable place’ … in our church, as the General Convention has said, then securing their place needs to be a priority,” the Communion Partners said.
Mary is a book reviewer and reporter for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Greenville University graduate who previously worked for the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal. Mary resides with her family in the San Francisco Bay area. Follow her on Twitter @mbjackson77.