Bill Love

November 16, 2018

Bishop Bill Love: No to Same-Sex Marriages in Episcopal Diocese of Albany

Same-sex marriage rites continue to be a source of tension across the Episcopal Church, as a decision by the denomination’s governing convention mandating same-sex marriage rites across all U.S. dioceses faces a challenge from a traditionalist bishop.

In an eight-page letter read aloud to local parishes following services on Sunday, November 11, Bishop Bill Love of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany directs clergy resident, licensed, or canonically resident in the diocese (serving elsewhere) not to use trial rites solemnizing marriages between persons of the same sex.

Love cites his obligation as a bishop “called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church” among several reasons for his decision against implementing the rites. The bishop characterizes the dispute as part of his dioceses’ “faithfulness in upholding God’s Word.”

Resolution B012 passed by General Convention July 5-13 in Austin, Texas, is slated to go into effect during Advent, the start of the church year on December 2nd. The resolution mandates dioceses provide access to same-sex trial rites over the objections of a diocesan bishop who does not agree with same-sex marriage.

“With the passage of B012, the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in effect is attempting to order me as a Bishop in God’s holy Church, to compromise ‘the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3 ESV), and to turn my back on the vows I have made to God and His People, in order to accommodate The Episcopal Church’s ‘new’ understanding of Christian marriage as no longer being ‘a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God’ as proclaimed in the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP 422), but now allowing for the marriage of same-sex couples,” Love wrote.

In his letter, Love insists that B012 will cause “tremendous damage …not only in the Diocese of Albany, but throughout The Episcopal Church and wider Anglican Communion.” The resolution conflicts with diocesan marriage canons in Albany, and Love notes that implementation of B012 also is at odds with the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10, the Windsor Report of 2004, and the various requests of the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

Episcopal Church canons override diocesan canons if they are in conflict, but B012 was passed as a resolution, not a canonical change, so it is unclear what path national church officials might take in seeking to enforce it over the objections of a diocesan bishop. Anglican blogger and attorney A.S. Haley writes about the language of the resolution and the authority of diocesan bishops on his Anglican curmudgeon blog here.

Dissident same-sex marriage supporters in Albany have been outspoken in favor of the resolution. This past Sunday, parishioners at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Albany gathered after the service and burned Love’s letter in front of the church building. St. Andrew’s is one of a handful of liberal parishes in the Diocese of Albany operating under a Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) arrangement. Such arrangements place parishes under the authority of another diocesan bishop (in this case, Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe of the Diocese of Central New York) with the assent of the local diocesan bishop.

The inter-diocesan oversight required by General Convention Resolution B012 is not the same as DEPO: affected parishes continue pastoral relationships and financial obligations with their local diocese aside from the same-sex marriage oversight provided by the visiting bishop. The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas – one of eight U.S. dioceses that did not permit same-sex marriages following General Convention 2015 – recently announced an agreement with Diocese of Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith to oversee implementation of same-sex marriage rites in three of its congregations. Other conservative dioceses are announcing similar arrangements along with processes for parish vestries and rectors to work through if they wish to implement use of the rites.

The addition of same-sex marriages conducted within the Episcopal Church beginning provisionally in 2012 has not significantly lessened a decline in the overall number of church weddings. In the past year alone, marriages conducted in the denomination dropped 8 percent, contributing to an overall decline of 43 percent in the past decade, and down 59 percent since 2002 – the year before the consecration of Gene Robinson as the church’s first openly partnered gay bishop.

Marriage has been a central issue in the denomination, which officially redefined marriage as between any two persons in 2015.

“Recent statistics show that The Episcopal Church is spiraling downward,” Love noted in his letter. “I can’t help but believe that God has removed His blessing from this Church. Unless something changes, The Episcopal Church is going to die.”

19 Responses to Bishop Bill Love: No to Same-Sex Marriages in Episcopal Diocese of Albany

  1. Mike says:

    I wonder how much longer TEC will tolerate someone like him, in a bishop’s position, who actually believes and supports Biblical teaching, in other words, who is a real Christian, unlike many in TEC who act more like agents of Satan.

    • James Byrum says:

      God uses the faithful witness of his people. That will always bring judgement on those who deny God’s clear teaching, and the response is to quiet the voice of God spoken by the leader of His flock. Praise God for Bishop Love, may he know of the countless throngs who love him for his faithfulness.

    • Walter Pryor says:

      The reason we are having such dissension and conflict right now in the church is this; God is polarizing the World into two camps. Those who know and love God. Those who are seeking and growing in God and all other people on Earth.
      These so-called clergies do not know or fear God. This is the result of preaching love, feelings, and tolerance for decades and never preaching obedience!
      When this is over you begin to see real Christian persecution!
      Satan is very crafty. This is also being revealed in Islam where all the evidence of Islam being a Satanic cult is being ignored for the sake of feelings.
      Jesus said of Satan; “He is the Father of LIes and the Great Deceiver! This fits the liberal church and Islam.

  2. William says:

    If the UMC adopts the “one” church/local option/big tent plan, whatever remains of that church — this is its future. The few traditionalists who remain will eventually be drummed out, just like will eventually happen to this defiant bishop. It should be noted that denominational liberals have NO TOLERANCE for those in disagreement with them on the one hand while they scream the intolerance of others that disagree with them on the other hand. Modern day liberals have become the epitome of intolerance across America and in some other western places.

    • Kendall Parker says:

      So sad, but so true.

    • Thomas says:

      William, you don`t know what you`re talking about. The theologically conservatives are still the majority in UMC and they have the support of the African church members.

      • William says:

        I said “IF”. The Presbyterians, Lutherans, and others have already joined the Episcopal Church and are headed down this road in a race to the bottom. Will the Methodists join them if the majority of Methodist bishops get their way in February?

  3. Rev. Robert Carroll Walters says:

    I am grateful for the witness of Bishop Love and pray that he will continue to have the strength to remain a defender of the faith and not to be wearied by those who would secularize the Church.
    That said, a note to ‘William’: take care not to paint ‘liberals’ with a broad brush. We are not monolithic in our opinions, but may be politically liberal like Sanders, but in agreement with Bishop Love in a matter such as this.

  4. Andrew Hughes says:

    Help us Jesus in such divisive times. We need a great awakening. Thanks for the incite Jeffrey.

  5. Jess Reeves says:

    The iron-fist of intolerance by the overwhelming majority of Bishops and TEC leadership is truly disgraceful. The Lord will bless Bishop Love eventually, and deal with those who reject His Word in His own time. For all those who just complacently do not care or accept policies against the dictates of their consciences, that is failure of care and charity which will also bring suitable consequences, May the Lord be merciful to us all, sinners, but by TEC misdirection, all will suffer.

  6. Thomas says:

    I`m quite sure Bishop William Love will be welcomed at the Anglican Church in North America, if he decides to join them.

  7. Sam says:

    We are thankful for the bold, biblical witness of Bishop Love. We are grievously lacking such witness in the diocese of Central Florida, where our bishop will not stand true as Love is.

  8. Vaughan Hayden says:

    Even so, come Lord Jesus!

  9. P. Bruce Kelso says:

    TEC May loose God’s blessing, but rise again under the power and direction of the one who is causing the current strife.

  10. P. Bruce Kelso says:

    That’s LOSE God’s blessing
    Not Loose. Sorry.

  11. Donald Hughes says:

    You are in our prayers Bishop Love. Stay the course and cling tight to your faith as you always have. We support you always!!! God Bless You !!!

  12. Gideon says:

    Bishop Love, stand firm because love is though, hard, and sacrificial. You are really reflecting your name. You are winner. I left the church because of so many evil there and planted a brand new Anglican Church. God in Jesus is your and our Strength.

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