The four candidates for bishop of an Episcopal Church diocese that recently garnered headlines for refusing to bless same-sex marriages have indicated that they will allow the practice.
The Episcopal Diocese of Albany has been without a bishop since the resignation in 2021 of William Love, who had issued an open letter in 2020 refusing to enforce a denominational rule requiring all dioceses to allow for the blessing of gay marriages.
According to a report from Episcopal News Service, the four candidates looking to replace Love in a Sept. 9 election have all indicated that they will follow the denomination rule on allowing same-sex marriages.
The candidates are the Rev. Neal Longe and the Rev. Scott Garno, both of whom are of the Diocese of Albany, the Rev. Jeremiah Williamson of the Diocese of Colorado and the Rev. Geoffrey Ward of the Diocese of Milwaukee.
In his official essay, Longe stated that he would “authorize the use of the new liturgical rites” for same-sex couples, saying it would come “without need for waiver, special permission or the need for outside supplemental episcopal oversight.”
Garno wrote that while he believes “God intends marriage to be the life-long covenantal relationship between one man and one woman,” he would still adhere to The Episcopal Church’s requirement for the diocese to permit same-sex marriage rites.
Garno encouraged civility and dialogue within the diocese, writing that it will be “only through listening to each other, trusting each other, loving each other as siblings in Christ, and, first and foremost, through the power of the Holy Spirit that we will find a lasting peace.”
Williamson reported having blessed two same-sex unions personally, and thus supported the requirement, adding that he wants the diocese to “create more room, make more space for a diversity of opinions.”
Ward wrote that he believes the issue of gay marriage is “truly complicated” and that he respects all sides on the issue, adding that if elected bishop, “honoring theological diversity would be a priority.”
“Seeking resolution and a mutual path forward would involve a basic commitment to respecting the dignity of every person, affording generous pastoral attention to every voice, and seeking Holy common ground on canonically sound footing,” Ward continued.
In July 2018, the Episcopal Church General Convention passed Resolution B012, which required all dioceses to bless same-sex unions, removing earlier provisions that allowed several dioceses to prohibit such measures, due to them being in conflict with the biblical standard of marriage.
While B012 allowed clergy to refuse to perform gay weddings, it required bishops who oppose them to let another bishop provide pastoral support for the same-sex couple and to provide a priest to perform the ceremony.
In November 2018, Albany Bishop Love released an open letter stating that he refused to enforce the resolution in his diocese. He wrote that “relations between two men or two women was never part of God's plan and is a distortion of His design in creation and as such is to be avoided.”
“To engage in sexual intimacy outside of marriage between a man and women, is against God's will and therefore sinful and needs to be repented of, NOT encouraged or told it is ok,” Love added.
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry officially restricted Love’s ministry in January 2019 and, in October 2020, a disciplinary panel concluded that Love had violated canon law by opposing the resolution.
In March 2021, Love announced that he was leaving The Episcopal Church and joining the theologically conservative breakaway denomination the Anglican Church in North America.