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Neighboring bishops respond to Albany directive

Neighboring bishops respond to Albany directive

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.

Faithfully yours,

The Right Reverend Thomas C. Ely

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JoS. S Laughon

I look forward to welcoming Bishop Love into ACNA.

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The Rev. Josh Shipman

We look forward to you receiving him, too.

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John White

Given that "Bishop Love will not be using or exempting parishes with DEPO relationships," some might question the utility or relevance of DEPO. As a congregant of St. Andrews, Albany, I can say that DEPO has been a God-send to our parish. Bishop DeDe has been a real pastor to us by our DEPO relationship with the Diocese of Central New York, providing wise counsel and support to our rector, welcome pastoral visits, the opportunity for discernment to ministry, and continuing education through programs offered in DCNY. We are grateful to Central New York for helping us through this painful period, and St. Andrews remains confident that we will emerge from this wilderness into a Church fully committed to inclusion and sacramental acceptance of all.

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Philip B. Spivey

The die has been cast in TEC. There is no turning back. Though painful, the remaining stumbling blocks are temporary. Full inclusion for LGBT folks is just within reach. Those still marginalized, remain in my prayers.

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Prof Christopher Seitz

Would you agree that this includes any Bishop using B012 (for a season), and that this must come to an end? I ask sincerely. I cannot see how the mindset you set forth could tolerate B012 type arrangements any more than +Love's position. I'd appreciate honesty on this matter. TEC must throughout every diocese and parish admit of no exceptions. Is this the reality? +Love felt so, clearly, and he did not accept a B012 idea because he believed it would never be a long term reality. On this score at least, he was right?

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Cynthia Katsarelis

Christopher, you really like future projections that no one can honestly make. For whatever it may be worth, I'm OK with priests having autonomy over who they will marry. I'm not OK with bishops having the power to stop LGBTQI couples from being able to marry or preventing affirming parishes from doing the marriages they believe in doing. DEPO is required to make that happen.

How long B012 and DEPO will be in use likely depends on how things play out in parishes and the lives of LGBTQI Episcopalians. If self-selection of parishes and priests works out, then I suspect that we can live in the tension. If it doesn't work out, the church will need to ensure that LGBTQI people have access to "all the sacraments for all the baptized."

Conservatives have to agree that a place for them means a place for LGBTQI inclusion. We can do AND but not OR.

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Kurt Hill

Right on, Cynthia! The Church goes through these struggles with conservative reaction periodically. Even true conservatives can gracefully "move on" when they accept that things will be somewhat different from what they are used to (Bishop Samuel Seabury comes to mind.) But one of the things I like about the Episcopal Church is that most Episcopalians, High or Low, are willing to meet each other half way. Small minorities exist that feel it is "either my way, or the highway" for opponents. (And I imagine I have some guilt here, too. All sides do). But for the most part, TEC is broad enough to accommodate everyone (including me). So, any kind of fundamentalism (particularly Evangelical Protestant fundamentalism) that so disfigures some other religious tendencies is generally absent--or absents itself--in the various Evangelical schisms of mainline Anglicanism from 1779 onward...

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Prof Christopher Seitz

Seabury in fact pretty much defeated his opponents who ended up compromising in his and the CofE's direction on descent clause, Bishops v deputies, and conceding the regularity of his orders.

But leaving that fact aside, I prefer the straightforward honesty of Mr Spivey. "B012 is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Like moribund prelates,TEC will eventually outgrow its need for both." That is it, in a oner.

Seabury and White would be puzzled to see the liberal protestant niche church of 1M TEC has become.

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Kurt Hill

I think that Seabury and White would be amazed or puzzled by a lot of aspects of twenty-first century life, Christopher. The abolition of slavery in America, for example, as well as the vote for women, etc. To say nothing of ecumenical relations with the Roman Church...

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Philip B. Spivey

Having witnessed several social revolutions in my lifetime, I know that none reach a defined terminus; the last mile of a long march is the most painful (for the marchers and those cheering them on) while the last of us make it across the finish line. Tragically, some revolutions remain unfinished. I do believe this one will finish in our time.

B012 is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Like moribund prelates,TEC will eventually outgrow its need for both.

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Prof Christopher Seitz

"B012 is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Like moribund prelates,TEC will eventually outgrow its need for both."

Thanks for your clear view.

+Love obviously shared it since he put no faith in B012. For the reason you make clear. And I agree with your view. B012 isn't the lasting compromise sold by moderates to conservatives. It is just a fig leaf.

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Kurt Hill

So, Christopher, how long do you expect that Bishop Love (sic) has before he faces deposition presentments...? Your best guess is fine...

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Prof Christopher Seitz

(the use of sic involves matters like a spelling error in an original comment, indicating that the reproduction of it isn't in error).

How long? Not long at all. And +Albany knows this. TEC cannot let this action stand.

But of course my comment had to do with CP nd B012.

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Kurt Hill

As I recall, Dr. Black (who took his degrees from I believe Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford), told us that it can also be used for purposes of ridicule or irony...

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