By Kirk Petersen

On Friday, June 12, the last remaining American bishop who refuses to permit same-sex marriage in his diocese will face a public disciplinary hearing because of that refusal.

Bishop William H. Love

If convicted, the Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, faces a possible maximum penalty of deposition – the term the Church uses for what is sometimes called defrocking. In other words, if deposed, Love would no longer be a priest in the Episcopal Church, let alone a bishop.

The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. Eastern time, and will be streamed on Facebook Live at

https://www.facebook.com/events/265211354592608/

The correct link is below:

A Facebook account is not required for viewing the hearing.

The standoff between Love and the Church began after the 2018 General Convention passed Resolution B012, which eliminated the ability of a diocesan bishop to veto the use of same-sex marriage rites within the diocese. Love was one of eight bishops who exercised that veto, which was provided for by the 2015 General Convention’s authorization of same-sex marriages.

The other seven bishops followed the provision in B012 requiring them to invite a bishop from outside the diocese to provide oversight of same-sex marriages. Love refused to do so, arguing in a 30-page brief that “Resolution B012 is not part of the discipline of the Church” because the resolution did not amend the canons or the Book of Common Prayer, but merely authorized continued “trial use” of the same-sex rites.

On November 10, 2018, Love issued a pastoral letter explaining that the use of same-sex marriage rites would continue to be forbidden in the Diocese of Albany, because Resolution B012 “is in direct conflict and contradiction to God’s intent for the sacrament of marriage as revealed through Holy Scripture.”

Love was charged under Title IV of the canons of the church, which provides that a member of the clergy (deacon, priest, or bishop) may face sanctions for failing to abide by the vows made at ordination. Love is specifically accused of failing to “conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church” — Canon IV.4.1(c).

Love has wide, but not universal, support within his diocese. The governing body of the diocese posted a statement on Facebook on June 8 saying in part:

“The Standing Committee prays for and calls for Bishop Love’s full exoneration and the restoration of his full ecclesiastical authority. We further call on the clergy and people of the diocese to join us in prayer and fasting (if you are able) for Bishop Love starting immediately and continuing through June 12th, and beyond.”  Prayer vigil services in support of Bishop Love are being held in several churches of the diocese in the days leading up to the hearing.

On the other hand, a few priests expressed displeasure about the pastoral letter, and St. Andrew’s in Albany burned a copy of it during services on November 11.

Useful Links:

Facebook Live hearing on June 12
Background documents related to the charges
Constitution & Canons of the Episcopal Church