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GC79: Bishop Love passionately defends consecration vows in matrimony debate

GC79: Bishop Love passionately defends consecration vows in matrimony debate
Albany bishop brings spiritual focus to B012 discussion ... I will remain faithful to God's Word

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
July 12, 2018

AUSTIN, TEXAS --- Clutching his well-worn Book of Common Prayer, Bishop William Love (IX Albany) tried to refocus the debate swirling around B012 (Marriage Rites for the Whole Church) from moods, passions and practice to the Scriptural and spiritual in discerning the mind and will of God for Holy Matrimony in The Episcopal Church.

Three times Bishop Love referenced the prayer book in his plea. He recalled the promises he made at his own episcopal consecration as bishop on Sept. 16, 2006, at the hands of Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, and his Albany predecessors Daniel Herzog (VIII Albany); David Bell (VII Albany) and David Bena (Albany-suffragan). Church of Ireland Bishop Harold Miller was on hand as an ecumenical representative of the wider Anglican Communion. He also mentioned the Covenant of Baptism and the Celebration of a New Ministry for the Installation of Rectors.

Two minutes into his 10-minute appeal for reason, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry reminded Bishop Love of the shortness of time. Bishop Love was on borrowed time since the allotted time for debate had already expired before he was called upon.

Begging the Presiding Bishop for indulgence, Bishop Love replied: "We are about to make a decision that is going to impact our church for the rest of its life. I am not sure we have studied this issue in the way that we should in the terms of Scripture. I am not sure that we have been able to fully have those conversations that we need in order to come to God's interpretation of this or God's will for this."

Just moments before, partnered lesbian Bishop Mary Glasspool (New York-suffragan) -- the daughter of a priest (the Rev. Douglas Glasspool) and the great-great granddaughter of the 10th Presiding Bishop Alfred Lee (I Delaware) -- explained that she and her "wife" Becki Sander got legally married in her therapist's office, after she became the bishop suffragan of Los Angeles. They have been in a "committed relationship" since 1988.

"I just continue to live in this church where I don't think we have unwrapped the 'gift' of gay and lesbian relationships who are partnered together and really celebrated them," the lesbian bishop fleshed out. "It is as if The Episcopal Church has been given a 'gift' and we haven't fully unwrapped it yet. It's time to do that now."

"What we have had up to this point is an awful lot listening, which is good thing, but it is listening to people's personal experiences, it's listening to people's feelings and their emotions," Bishop Love explained. "What we have not had an honest look at is what God has said about this issue and how best to help people who find themselves in same-sex relationships."

Recalling the actions of the previous General Convention, he said. "When we concluded General Convention in 2015 every bishop in this church had what they needed in order to be able to exercise their ministry to those entrusted to their care. Now we are trying to change that. You are trying to tie my hands ... you're trying to tie the hands of others ... and it is not going to help us as we move forward."

Bishop Love is appalled that Resolution B012 and the constant reworking of the proposal is designed to sideline and silence the bishops, particularly the eight bishops --William Love (IX Albany); Greg Brewer (Central Florida); George Sumner (VII Dallas); John Howard (VIII Florida); Michael Smith (XI North Dakota) Dan Martins (XI Springfield); John Bauerschmidt (XI Tennessee); and Ambrose Gumbs (V Virgin Islands) -- who haven't bowed to the demand for sodomite marriage in their dioceses.

"Eight bishops have been seen problematic," Bishop Love continued, "because in our understanding of Holy Scripture, in our desire to try to uphold in maintaining the unity of the church and in carrying out our Apostolic relationship with the other bishops throughout the church, we have been seen as problematic. And we are trying to be silenced and told that we cannot speak on this as it relates to our parishes."

Bishop Love said the diocesan bishop has a place of authority in the local parish.

Quoting from the Service of the Institution of a New Rector the installing the bishop says: "... let all these -- the Bible, water, a stole, the Book of Common Prayer, sacramental oil, the keys to the church, a copy of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and bread and wine -- be signs of the ministry which is mine (the bishop) and yours (the rector) in this place (the local parish)."

"We are clearly stating that the BISHOP has AUTHORITY to SPEAK about what happens within the life of a PARISH." Bishop Love emphatically explained.

With a sweep of his arm, the Albany bishop continued: "This Resolution is trying to silence me and silence everyone of us in here (the House of Bishops).

He said that the bishops are being faced with contradictions in trying to meet the need of a small group.

"We're constantly at contradiction in what we are doing in trying to meet the needs of one group," the bishop explained. "We are contradicting ourselves all over the place. And I find it very frustrating."

He said that some in the church are saying that same-sex coupling is a "new thing that the Holy Spirit is revealing" and that The Episcopal Church is "being prophetic" and ultimately "the rest of the Body of Christ will come to understand that."

"I don't believe, Presiding Bishop, that that is necessarily true," Bishop Love said to Presiding Bishop Michel Curry, who countered that the Bishop from Albany was running out of time. "I understand that, Sir," Bishop Love replied.

"I will, by the Grace of God, try to remain faithful to my Ordination Vows," he said speaking directly to the Presiding Bishop. "But, in those instances where I find that this church is asking me to go in opposition to what God has spoken through Holy Scripture -- God's Word will triumph in terms of my actions. And then, this House will have to decide how you will deal with that. But, I will remain faithful to God's Word."

Bishop Love also noted that he has taken flack for his strong Biblical stance on marriage.

"I have been accused of being mean-spirited, bigoted, homophobic, ignorant, and all sorts of things,' Bishop Love recalled, the pain being heard in his voice. "That are being said by people who have no clue as to who I am or what I am about."

The Albany bishop is also very concerned that if Resolution B012 coupled with A068 (Plan for the Revision of the Book of Common Prayer) passed, the "spiritual" bloodshed will again flow.

"When this passes the floodgates are going to open once again," Bishop Love predicted. "The insidious lawsuits are going to continue, once again. I'm concerned, that what maybe very well intentioned is going to greatly -- negatively -- impact this church."

Bishop Love complimented the Presiding Bishop on his preaching ability.

"I was so proud of you," Bishop Love said to Presiding Bishop Curry, recalling his sermon at the Opening Eucharist. "I was so pleased that I had tears running down my face in thanksgiving for the message that you were sharing with us -- the message of helping us keep our focus on Christ in the midst of the storms. The message of remaining connected to the vine and the life-source of the Church. I had tears running down my face as you proclaimed that Gospel."

Bishop Love feels that the passage of Resolution B012 will work to undermine all that the Presiding Bishop is doing to promote evangelism and the Jesus Movement at General Convention.

"I'm concerned, Sir, that we are about to take actions that is going to greatly complicate and perhaps undo all the good that you are doing," Bishop Love said the Presiding Bishop Curry.

Bishop Love said that when the vote was called, he would vote "No!"

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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