After Episcopal bishop’s marriage stance, a church ponders the future

Nov 14, 2018 by

After Bishop William Love released a strongly worded letter definitively rejecting gay marriage in the Episcopal diocese of Albany – and directly opposing the stance of the national church – those who agree with the bishop and those who disagree considered the future of the diocese.

The big question: What next? Parishioners leaving churches? Or even whole churches splitting away, complete with legal and property disputes? The short answer: No one knows. Much will depend on the formal response from the U.S. Episcopal Church, which has not yet taken specific action or suggested what such action might entail.

But Love himself has already heard intimations that some are pushing for a move against the bishop via Title IV, the grouping of canons – i.e., church laws – governing discipline.

“It has come to my attention through formal channels that inquiries have been made about how to bring Title IV charges against me,” said Love in an email responding to Times Union questions regarding his pastoral letter and its potential ramifications. “The final outcome is still yet to be seen. . . . I am trying by God’s grace to be obedient to what I believe He is asking of me, whatever the outcome.”

From the start, Love was vocal in his opposition to B012, the resolution issued by the national church at its General Convention in July. At the time, eight dioceses were outliers within the Episcopal Church on the matter of gay marriage, which was endorsed nationally at the previous convention in 2015 but rejected by the bishops of Albany, North Dakota, Florida, central Florida, Dallas, Tennessee, Springfield, Ill., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Five of those eight ultimately accepted the compromise.

The new resolution was passed as a compromise that extends the sacrament of marriage to gay couples in those dissenting dioceses while allowing individual priests and bishops to recuse themselves. Love’s letter definitively quashes that possibility, saying B012 “shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy” and affirming the diocesan canon restricting the sacrament to heterosexual couples.

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