Bishop William Love of Albany released a pastoral letter to his diocese last week informing them of his decision to not implement Resolution B012 in the diocese of Albany. Constructed as a compromise to between bishops who hold to marriage being only for opposite-sex couples and clergy and parishes under their authority who accept the church’s predominant belief in marriage equality; Bishop Love’s directive clarify his unwillingness to accept B012’s attempt at a Via Media accommodation.
Some dioceses where marriage equality has not existed, such as Springfield and Dallas, have opted to use the DEPO mechanism, of alternative bishops as a way to implement B012. DEPO stands for Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight and it allows for a Diocesan Bishop to delegate certain pastoral tasks to a different bishop for a congregation with which he or she has theological differences.
Throughout the Episcopal church, a number of parishes and bishops, both progressive and conservative, have used this mechanism. The diocese of Albany has at least three parishes that have DEPO relationships with neighboring bishops. St Andrew’s, Albany has a relationship with bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe of Central New York. Bishop Thomas Ely of Vermont provides DEPO oversight of St. John’s in Essex, NY, and St. Luke the Beloved Physician in Saranac Lake, NY.
These parishes were not specifically addressed in Bishop Love’s letter, however, the wording of the directive leaves little doubt that, unlike some of his conservative peers, Bishop Love will not be using or exempting parishes with DEPO relationships as he wrote;
“I hereby issue the following Pastoral Direction to all the clergy canonically resident, resident or licensed in the Episcopal Diocese of Albany: Until further notice, the trial rites authorized by Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed), and Diocesan Canon 16 shall be fully complied with by all diocesan clergy and parishes.” [emphasis ours]
Bishops Duncan-Probe and Ely have each issued statements of support.
Bishop Duncan-Probe wrote;
LGBTQ people are God’s beloved, made in the image of God, and are our beloved neighbors, friends, clergy and lay leaders of The Episcopal Church.
All human love is a reflection of God’s love, and The Episcopal Church has resolved that the rite of marriage is open to all in our Church, regardless of sexuality or gender expression. The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York continues to uphold the policies of The Episcopal Church and is dedicated to Jesus Christ who commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Our dedication to our LBGTQ siblings was exemplified this past summer when priests and laypeople from across our Diocese marched in Pride parades and participated in Pride festivities in Syracuse, Binghamton and elsewhere. As the Diocesan Bishop, I am resolute in my affirmation of equality, dignity, and full inclusion for all people regardless of their political, social, or theological views.
We are, first and foremost, people committed to the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus.
I recognize this is a challenging time and that some may have found the recent statement of Bishop Love
of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany to be injurious. I want to be clear that God loves you and has created you as a blessing in our world. Each of us is called to be our authentic self, for only then can we truly be the beloved community God intends. I affirm marriage equality and stand as an ally for social justice for all persons. All of us—LGBTQ people, Bishop Love, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, and the people of this diocese—are beloved children of God.
Please join me in praying for the clergy and people of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, The Episcopal Church, and our LGBTQ siblings everywhere. May we all be defined by what we are for, by the love we share and our dedication to the Good News that God loves us and that we are God’s beloved people. And, as our Presiding Bishop says, may God hold us all in those Almighty hands of love.
May the eternal love of God bless you and keep you.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan Probe
Bishop of Central New York
Bishop Ely wrote;
To the people of The Episcopal Church in Vermont;
Considering the wide publication and growing public comment regarding the recent pastoral letter issued by Bishop William Love in the neighboring Diocese of Albany, I write to the people of The Episcopal Church in Vermont to reaffirm my commitment to the full inclusion of all people in the life of The Episcopal Church and our church’s canonical commitment to marriage equality. The trial marriage liturgies for all couples authorized by the General Convention will be available for use in The Diocese of Vermont beginning Sunday, December 2, the first Sunday of Advent.
I am grateful for the strong statements from the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies in support of the actions of General Convention and the full inclusion of all people in the life, worship and governance of our church. I remain mindful of the theological differences within our church about matters of human sexuality, and I remain committed to full and honest conversation with anyone who wishes to explore these matters in more depth.
I ask that you please remember in your prayers the people of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Essex, NY, and St. Luke the Beloved Physician in Saranac Lake, NY. Many, if not most, in these two congregations, where I offer Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight, hold a theological understanding different from their bishop and have shared their disappointment and hurt with me.
We welcome all seeking a spiritual home to visit a local Episcopal Church in Vermont and receive the warm welcome and hospitality of our members.
The Right Reverend Thomas C. Ely