A bishop of The Episcopal Church who has appealed a punishment for refusing to allow same-sex marriages in his diocese will go before a hearing panel to argue his case.
Bishop William Love of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany was punished last year by The Episcopal Church for refusing to enforce a recently enacted resolution allowing congregations in his regional body to bless same-sex marriages.
In a statement released Wednesday while attending the fall House of Bishops’ Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bishop Love announced that the Title IV Reference Panel voted to refer his appeal to the Hearing Panel.
“I greatly appreciate the Reference Panel’s decision to expedite the process by referring this matter directly to the Hearing Panel,” stated Love.
“I will have the opportunity to address the concerns raised by the issuance of the November 10, 2018 Pastoral Letter and Directive which upholds the Church’s traditional understanding and teaching on marriage.”
Love added that with the Reference Panel vote, “canonical timelines will be put in place” that should move the process “much more quickly.”
“It is my hope and prayer that God’s will, will ultimately be accomplished whatever the outcome of the Title IV proceedings,” he added.
According to the Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs, the members of the Hearing Panel will include the Right Reverend Jennifer Brooke-Davidson of Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, the Right Rev. Herman Hollerith IV of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, The Right Rev. W. Nicholas Knisley of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, Hearing Panel President the Rev. Erik Larsen of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, and Ms. Melissa Perrin of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago.
“Title IV is the section of The Episcopal Church’s Canons that addresses the grounds and processes for ‘ecclesiastical discipline,’ a canonical process adopted by the Church to encourage accountability, reconciliation, and pastoral response when a member of its clergy (deacons, priests, or bishops) is accused of misconduct,” explained the public affairs office in a statement.
In July of last year, the Episcopal Church’s General Convention approved Resolution B012, which expanded the right for same-sex couples to marry in all dioceses, including ones where the bishops objected.
The new resolution gave clergy the right to refuse to officiate same-sex weddings, however bishops opposed to same-sex marriage rites have to call on another bishop to provide pastoral support for the couple and provide a clergy member to perform the ceremony.
In addition to Albany, the other impacted dioceses included Dallas; North Dakota; Springfield, Illinois; Tennessee; the U.S. Virgin Islands; and two Florida-based dioceses, the Diocese of Florida and the Diocese of Central Florida.
Last November, Bishop Love released a pastoral letter stating that same-sex wedding ceremonies will not take place in the churches of his diocese, despite the approved resolution.
"Jesus is calling the Church to follow His example. He is calling the Church to have the courage to speak His Truth in love about homosexual behavior — even though it isn't politically correct," wrote Love.
"Sexual 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."
In January, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, leader of the denomination, officially restricted Love’s ministry, putting a partial restriction on the bishop’s ability to enforce his opposition to Resolution B012.
“Love … is forbidden from participating in any manner in the Church’s disciplinary process in the Diocese of Albany in any matter regarding any member of the clergy that involves the issue of same-sex marriage,” stated Bishop Curry at the time.
“Nor shall he participate in any other matter that has or may have the effect of penalizing in any way any member of the clergy or laity or worshiping congregation of his diocese for their participation in the arrangements for or participation in a same-sex marriage in his diocese or elsewhere.”