Episcopal bishop to go before hearing panel for refusing to allow same-sex marriage in his diocese

The Bishop of Albany William Love(Photo: Facebook/The Diocese of Albany)

An Episcopal bishop in the US who was subjected to disciplinary measures for refusing to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies in his diocese has welcomed the opportunity to argue his case before a hearing panel. 

The Bishop of Albany, William Love, introduced the policy in December last year after the US Episcopal Church's General Convention passed Resolution B012 expanding the right of same-sex couples to marry in churches even within dioceses where the bishop objected.

This overturned a 2015 resolution that had allowed bishops who disagreed with same-sex marriage to ban such ceremonies within their diocese.

Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, responded to Bishop Love's policy by restricting part of his ministry. 

In a written notice sent in November 2018, Bishop Curry said Bishop Love was "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".

"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 worshipping congregation of his diocese for their participation in the arrangements for or participation in a same-sex marriage in his diocese or elsewhere," the notice continued.

At the time, Bishop Love vowed to appeal against the decision. In a statement this week, he revealed that Church officials have now agreed to refer his appeal to a special hearing panel. 

He welcomed the move, saying, "I greatly appreciate the Reference Panel's decision to expedite the process by referring this matter directly to the hearing panel.

"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."

He added: "It is my hope and prayer that God's will, will ultimately be accomplished whatever the outcome of the Title IV proceedings." 

Title IV is the section of US Episcopal Church canons addressing the grounds and processes for ecclesiastical discipline when a member of the clergy is accused of misconduct. 

The members of the hearing panel will include the Rt Rev Jennifer Brooke-Davidson of Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, the Rt Rev Herman Hollerith IV of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia, the Rt 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 Melissa Perrin of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago.