Thomas James Brown

Gay Maine Episcopal Bishop Unilaterally Transitions Holy Spirit to “She”

on June 26, 2019

Episcopalians in Maine took part in the consecration of their new bishop this past weekend, the first openly partnered gay man to be installed as a diocesan bishop in the U.S.-based Episcopal Church since Gene Robinson in 2003.

The Rt. Rev. Thomas James Brown was consecrated Saturday as the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Maine at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Portland. The service was led by the Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

A video posted on the diocese’s YouTube channel showed participants, including Brown, calling the Holy Spirit a “she” during the recitation of the Nicene Creed. It is unclear if Curry said “she.”

An order of service provided by the diocese lists an unaltered version of the creed, but video of the service, in which only Brown and Curry are shown with microphones, captures the creed being recited as, “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Who with the Father and the Son, She is worshiped and glorified. She has spoken through the Prophets.”

The original language for the Holy Spirit was adopted by the First Council of Constantinople in the year 381.

Brown’s consecration came ahead of next year’s global gathering of Anglican bishops — known as the Lambeth Conference — that is being overshadowed by the participation of gay and lesbian bishops and their spouses from the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada. It also occurred as the Diocese of Albany awaits news of a formal charge against their bishop for his refusal to permit clergy to perform same-sex marriage rites, which conflict with Albany’s diocesan canon law.

The Diocese of Maine reports 11,322 members and 3,694 attendees spread across 59 congregations. Membership declined 15.1 percent between 2007 and 2017, while attendance for the same period declined 25.8 percent.

Brown has served at multiple churches in the Northeast, including St. Michael’s Church in Brattleboro, Vermont. It was there where he met the Rev. Thomas Mousin, a then-United Methodist pastor. The couple received a blessing of their same-sex union in 2003 from the Episcopal bishop of Vermont. Mousin has since been ordained an Episcopal priest.

Mousin was involved in several aspects of the ceremony, including composing the text for the hymn “As Once You Took Upon Yourself” that was sung during communion.

The Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool, assisting bishop of New York, also participated as a co-consecrator during the ceremony. Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, was elected in 2009 as bishop suffragan for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Brown previously worked as director of education for Planned Parenthood of South Central Michigan, a local affiliate of the largest provider of abortions in the United States. He has held prominent roles in the national church. From 2003-2006, Brown served as secretary of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop, which resulted in the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Same-sex marriage continues to be a source of controversy within the Episcopal Church and worldwide Anglican Communion with which it is affiliated. Episcopal Church officials object that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has declined to invite same-sex spouses to the Lambeth Conference.

Welby has also been criticized by Anglican traditionalists, including bishops affiliated with the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) for inviting those bishops in same-sex marriages or civil unions in contravention of the precedent established at the last Lambeth Conference by then-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Bishops at the 1998 Lambeth Conference rejected “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture” and voted that they “cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions.”

Churches that are members of GAFCON number about 50 million Anglican Christians, most of which are located in the Global South.

Dioceses in Ontario and Michigan have also elected openly partnered gay and lesbian candidates for bishop.

Albany’s bishop speaks

Albany’s Episcopal bishop, William Love, remains under a state of partial inhibition due to his refusal to permit priests and churches in his diocese to preside at or host same-sex weddings.

Love explains that he is seeking to remain true to the Holy Scripture and the church’s traditional understanding of marriage.

In his address before the Albany diocesan convention earlier this month, he described the 2018 passage of Resolution B-012 by the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church as “a ticking time bomb” launched into the middle of the Diocese of Albany, “waiting to explode.” The resolution mandated that all dioceses must permit the use of same-sex marriage rites.

Love also described an intensifying level of “tension and division between those with differing opinions in the Diocese regarding same-sex marriage.”

“The jury is still out as to whether The Episcopal Church is truly welcoming, inclusive and diverse enough for those of us who cannot embrace TEC’s current progressive agenda,” said Love. “If we are to have a real place in The Episcopal Church, we must be provided a way to remain true to our understanding of Holy Scripture and the sacramental nature of the Church, and to differentiate ourselves from TEC’s progressive actions and beliefs that violate God’s Word (as we understand it), and are so offensive and problematic to the vast majority of the wider Anglican Communion and Body of Christ. Anything less is the equivalent of TEC’s enslavement of its conservative and orthodox members.”

Video of the consecration service has been made available by the Episcopal Diocese of Maine via YouTube and can be viewed here:

  1. Comment by senecagriggs on June 26, 2019 at 7:50 am


    Does the math sustain these churches?

  2. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on June 26, 2019 at 10:35 am

    If those 3,700 attenders have significant disposable income, the answer is clear: yes, they are sustainable. The top officials within the Episcopal Church aren’t particularly interested in evangelizing the lost, but they are interested in preserving the resources necessary to continue a boutique denomination.

  3. Comment by PeterB on June 28, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    There is a lot of ruin in a denomination, and the answer is no, 60 attendees is not enough to keep the heat and lights on and a clergyman at the pulpit even at starvation wages. The church is eating its seed corn in order to provide a playground for deviants.

  4. Comment by Steven Vornov on June 26, 2019 at 8:11 am

    Isn’t this a dog bites man story? Heretics do as they do.

  5. Comment by Steve on June 26, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    People who (possibly wisely) wrote off the Episcopal Church long ago might find this story to be of little interest, but the average Episcopalian (or member of any mainline denomination) probably considers this newsworthy. I know I do.

  6. Comment by Patrick98 on June 26, 2019 at 9:10 am

    What is the gender for the Holy Spirit in Hebrew and Greek? Is there a Bible scholar who can tell us, since the Holy Scriptures were written in those languages and they both use gender. Thankyou.

  7. Comment by Palamas on June 26, 2019 at 10:46 am

    In Hebrew, the word “ruach” (Spirit) is feminine, but that is because it is also the word for “breath,” and all body parts and related words are feminine in Hebrew. It says nothing about a gender assignment.

    In Greek, the word “pneuma” is neuter (genderless), but masculine pronouns (He, Him) are used of the Holy Spirit.

    Referring to the Holy Spirit as “She” is not a matter of linguistics, but of politics, pure and simple.

  8. Comment by Wm. "Bill" Paul on June 26, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Ruach in Hebrew actually can be either feminine or masculine.

  9. Comment by Palamas on June 27, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    In a limited number of cases, yes, it can be masculine. But it is generally feminine. This, however, has no theological significance.

  10. Comment by Darien on June 26, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Romans 8:16 shows the Holy Spirit as “himself”

  11. Comment by Sarah C. on June 26, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Watching the video it’s clear that more than just the gay bishop says “she.”

    It’s interesting that the camera was basically focused on Presiding Bishop Curry but switches to the new Maine bishop just at the moment he says “she.” Seems like an unusual coincidence, if you ask me. You have to wonder if this woke bishop orchestrated this.

    Is this some new left-wing iteration of the Creed? I’ve never heard about it before. I know the left doesn’t like saying “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” anymore. But this? It’s new to me.

  12. Comment by Edward Thomas on June 26, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    I can’t believe nobody reacted to this. Could Curry and the other bishops not hear this? Someone said she twice. I agree that it sounded like more than one person said she. Look, TEC can change a lot of things but it cannot unilaterally change the Nicene Creed without an ecumenical council of all Christendom.

  13. Comment by Palamas on June 26, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    Actually, TEC can do anything it pleases, and has for decades, without regard to Christendom, God, or anyone else. That doesn’t mean we have to treat them as a Christian church, and I, for one, don’t. Doesn’t mean there aren’t Christians in TEC, as well as Christian congregations. The organization as a whole, however, is thoroughly and irreversibly apostate.

  14. Comment by Franz Christian on June 26, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    At what point then do religious news outlets and commentators stop describing the Episcopal Church or its individual members or parishes as “liberal” or “progressive”? It’s one thing to be Spong and openly reject doctrine. I have more respect for that. It’s something else to deceive, which this new bishop and others are doing. Why don’t we come out and name them for what they are? Fake Christians.

  15. Comment by Coram Deo on June 26, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    What a blasphemous farce!

  16. Comment by Diane on June 27, 2019 at 1:44 am

    “Who serves my Father as a son is surely kin to me”…. “Thou my great Father, I thy true son”…. the word “son” in these familiar hymn lyrics was never something I understood or connected with as a young person because I’m not a son. Sometimes language is a disconnect, and I’m guessing the use of “she” for Spirit is as off-putting for traditionalists as those hymn lyrics were for me. I personally appreciate a variety of terms for God, Spirit, etc, as language challenges me to stretch my imagination. As I held my mother’s hand while she took her last breaths, I affirmed her and the gifts she shared with us during her time here on earth as reflective of God’s holy spirit….surely God’s Spirit can be spoken of as feminine. Has nothing to do with politics.

  17. Comment by Mike on June 27, 2019 at 8:06 am

    Since Jesus refer to the Holy Spirit as “He” in John 14: 16-17, you do not have the right to change His designation as male. Doing so diminishes God’s Word, and is an assault upon God’s sovereignty.

    Apostasy reigns in so-called liberal Christianity, which is not real Christianity at all, but simply a perversion of the real thing.

  18. Comment by Steve on June 27, 2019 at 8:54 am

    Let’s see if I understand: people get to identify as any gender they want, but God doesn’t. Makes no sense. Your argument reminds me of something others have said about the Episcopal Church: in bible study, they usually ask participants what a reading means “to them”, avoiding what it actually says. Bible study becomes one of many directionless distractions, and if you don’t like that one, try the Labyrinth.

  19. Comment by Steve on June 27, 2019 at 9:23 am

    You’re quoting old hymns exclusively. Hymns? Really? The bar for changing hymns is way lower than the prayer book, in part because they’re often much less than scriptural. In this case, the lines you are quoting are not scriptural, they’re personal meditations of the lyricist. On another topic, your mother and the Holy Spirit aren’t the same thing.

  20. Comment by Wm. "Bill" Paul on June 27, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    Wait. You seriously mean you didn’t understand what these stanzas were saying? You couldn’t get that the authors were talking about being brought into a loving parent-child, intimate, using the male form of that relationship, and talking about the kinship Christians have across other differences, or even across time, as believers? You’re not saying these verses didn’t move you, or warm your heart,or fill you with joy when you say you didn’t *understand* them. You’re saying they were not comprehensible to you. So, the parable of the prodigal son left you bewildered?

  21. Comment by Diane on June 27, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Of course the Bible refers to God as male; males were understood as the source of life. They provided the seed, women were merely fertile ground, or not. When a couple failed to conceive, the woman was barren. The idea that her male partner was barren would’ve been ludicrous in biblical times. He was blameless, she was at fault. It would’ve made no sense to consistently refer to God as feminine. Also would’ve made no sense to have a female savior. Beliefs reflect what people sense as true. Christianity is falling out of favor where people reject these “truisms” as the antiquated understandings they are. I am quite dismissive of a requisite male-only deity. No longer makes sense as a belief.

  22. Comment by Steve on June 27, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    You are quite dismissive of a lot more than that, as anybody can see in your numerous prior posts. I have a hard time seeing how you’re Christian after you’re done dismissing everything.

  23. Comment by Mike on June 27, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    “I have a hard time seeing how you’re Christian after you’re done dismissing everything.” She’s not.

    She’s not Christian, in any meaningful sense of the word.

  24. Comment by Jim on June 29, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    Diane has created her own god which is an idol. It is not the God of the Bible and she knows it. This is very typical of the 1960s baby boomers who have chosen to reject the truth. They have hardened their heart and the idea of repentance and forgiveness is foolishness to their darkened mind. Jesus said to shake the dust off and leave those in darkness who refuse the truth.

  25. Comment by Joy on June 29, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    God is all things, both male and female.

  26. Comment by Jim on July 3, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    Says Joy? Or scripture?

  27. Comment by David on July 3, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    With fear and trembling, remember these words from Rev 22/18
    “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.”
    ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:18-19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

  28. Comment by Artemis on July 7, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. It seems to me there is a lot of judging here. Not much love.

  29. Comment by Joy on July 16, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    I and and a number of women and men have been saying “she” for many years. It’s ridiculous to believe that God is either male or female. God is so much greater than that. Using “she” can remind us that God cannot be truly and fully expressed in human language and imagery.

  30. Comment by yekengale on March 3, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    If its a she, its Lady not Lord

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