Episcopal Bishop Love

Episcopal Bishop Love to Resign in Same-Sex Marriage Dispute

Jeffrey Walton on October 27, 2020

An Episcopal Church bishop facing disciplinary action for prohibiting same-sex marriage rites in his diocese has announced he will resign.

Episcopal Diocese of Albany Bishop William H. Love said in an address to his diocesan convention on Saturday, October 24 that he has entered into a voluntary accord with Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry that discharges any further action from the Hearing Panel. The disciplinary hearing had been scheduled for October 26.

Love’s resignation will take effect February 1 following a one-month terminal sabbatical. (A tip of the hat to Episcopal Priest George Conger who published the news Saturday on the Anglican Ink news site). Following his resignation, the Albany Standing Committee will become the ecclesial authority in the diocese until a new bishop is elected and consecrated.

In a statement from the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs, Curry expressed “sadness for the pain that has been experienced across the theological spectrum” and also “continuing support for the Church’s intention that all persons have access to marriage rites authorized by the Church.”

The Hearing Panel returned a finding of guilt earlier this month, ruling that Love violated his ordination vows and failed to abide “by the Discipline and Worship of The Episcopal Church” in declining to permit his clergy to perform same-sex marriage rites authorized by the General Convention in 2018. Love and his legal team argued that the resolution (B012) was not a properly constituted revision to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

 “After much thought and prayer, recognizing that whatever disciplinary action would be offered would not be anything I could in good conscience agree to, I have made the very difficult, but necessary decision to resign as Bishop of Albany, effective February 1, 2021 – the 14th Anniversary of my becoming the Bishop Diocesan,” Love announced. “Given all that has happened, and that which was still to come, I believe that to stay any longer would be more of a detriment to the Diocese than a help.”

The Albany bishop did not state what his plans will be after stepping down as diocesan. A statement from Curry “wishes him well in retirement” but Love is only 63 years old. The church’s mandatory retirement age is 72.

Love could assumedly return to parish ministry, or serve as an assisting bishop under the authority of another diocesan. No indication was given that Love will resign his ordained orders in the Episcopal Church, even as he concludes his position as diocesan.

Love is one of few remaining orthodox bishops in the denomination, and the only bishop of a domestic U.S. diocese to proscribe the use of same-sex rites by clergy licensed or canonically resident there.

A handful of other bishops issued a statement October 10 in support of Bishop Love following the finding of guilt from the hearing panel.

“We support unreservedly his convictions on the church’s traditional teaching on marriage,” the Communion Partners statement read. “We remain dismayed that latitude is extended to some in the enforcement of our canons, but not to others. If members of the church who hold the traditional teaching on the question of marriage have ‘an indispensable place’ (Resolution A227) in our church, as the General Convention has said, then securing that place needs to be a priority.”

The statement was signed by the bishops of the dioceses of Honduras, Tennessee, Central Florida, Springfield (Illinois), the Dominican Republic, West Texas, and Dallas.

Love has participated in the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) a traditionalist renewal movement within the Anglican Communion. GAFCON is largely anchored in the Global South, where Anglican Christianity is vibrant and growing.

“We are disappointed that Bishop Love has found it necessary to submit his resignation,” the GAFCON Secretariat wrote in an e-mail release. “The Episcopal Church’s action has been taken because it has a demonstrated intent to ensure all dioceses (where civil law permits) allow for same-sex marriages. No appeal by Bishop Love will result in a different outcome. We continue to pray for Bishop Love and his family and the Diocese of Albany as it prayerfully considers his and its future.”

Love’s message to his diocese emphasized continuity with the historic teachings of the church and with the authority of scripture.

“During these past 14 years, I have tried as best I could by God’s grace and the empowering and leading of the Holy Spirit to be faithful and obedient to the Lord’s call on my life as a Bishop in Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. 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,” Love stated in his address to the diocesan synod. “I have tried by God’s grace and the guidance and empowering of the Holy Spirit to faithfully uphold my ordination vows, despite the recent ruling of the Hearing Panel, and to carry out the unique ministry of bishops, as ‘one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ’s resurrection and interpreting the Gospel,’ testifying to ‘Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of Lords and King of Kings.’”

  1. Comment by David Miller on October 27, 2020 at 8:24 pm

    This is a tragedy. So sorry to hear of this injustice. As a Methodist I see this as the future of the United Methodist Church. The progressives will drive out all clergy who do not support the progressive line. Sad. Bishop Love will be in my prayers.

  2. Comment by David Stewart on October 27, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    It is sad that this has happened but sadder still, seeing a denomination essentially no longer being Christian, though there may be pockets within it that have not eschewed Christ for the pablum of the world.

    Having at one time grown up in the Methodist Tradition, I still have a tender spot for the Methodist church, despite having fully embraced the Reformed Tradition, and follow the UMC’s developments. But, considering the pronouncements and actions by some so-called progressives in the UMC, I’m afraid that this will happen in the newly reconstituted, progressive UMC, which will reveal itself to at heart be neither all that liberal or progressive, should progressive Phariseeism fully take over.

    As currently a member of the PCUSA, we still honor conscientious dissent as it is written into our polity, but as TEC and others have shown that is really only as good as the willingness of the leadership to back it up. And like most mainline denominations that are doing so, the PCUSA leadership’s wholesale embrace of critical race theory may well prove to be the undoing of that policy and not LGBT matters as happened with TEC. For the UMC, it may very well be the confluence of both LGBT and CRT that causes it to follow TEC’s direction on dissent.

  3. Comment by GEORGE W BROWN on October 30, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Consider the article’s title: Bp Love resigned “in defeat” the way Jesus, Paul, Peter, and all his apostles did. They remained faithful to God and His word though in the hands of those who were not. The folks at 815 Second St., NY have abandoned the church’s so-called “three legged stool” of Scripture, Reason, and Tradition, decimating the denomination by driving away those who will not. Bp Love chose to pay the price to take up his cross and follow Jesus RATHER than “the world.” May God reward him openly in this life. Thanks be to God for his faithfulness, sacrifice and example. Kudos to you Bp Love!

  4. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on November 2, 2020 at 10:09 am

    The article’s title doesn’t mention the word defeat.

  5. Comment by GEORGE W BROWN on October 30, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    “The ship in the sea is right, but the sea in the ship is wrong. The church in the world is right, but the world in the church is wrong.”

  6. Comment by Dr. Bruce Atkinson on November 5, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    “We are in cultural freefall, tragically aided and abetted by a growing number of Christian denominations like the Episcopal Church who are bent on embracing the culture instead of the Bible.
    The Episcopal General Conventions produce countless resolutions which are quickly forgotten, except for the small handful where culture seriously interacts with the church and scripture, and to which the Episcopal Church quickly caves into the cultural imperative.”
    (David Virtue, 2019)

    I think there is one very important reason why the Episcopal Church was so susceptible to secular infiltration and decadence— no one was knowledgeable about the scriptures except for a very few, and these few were not committed to their authority as the Word of God. As a “cradle Episcopalian” I recall well that members were not encouraged to study the scriptures. There was very little discipleship going on and no discipline of heretics among the bishops. Consequently, we were defenseless and weaponless when under secular attack. The Episcopal Church simply rolled over and surrendered to the world, the flesh, and the devil. And I had to leave.

    BTW, I have been quite happy as a member of ACNA. – BA

  7. Comment by Search4Truth on November 6, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    Jeffrey, the title in the IRD newsletter that links to this article mentions defeat.

  8. Comment by Jeffrey Walton on November 9, 2020 at 10:29 am

    Ah, I understand. Mark Tooley compiles his weekly news digest e-mail, I didn’t author that. What I wrote is here in the article itself.

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