Church governance geeks in the Episcopal Church heard earlier this week that the ironically named Bishop Love of the diocese of Albany has been found guilty by a Title IV hearing panel of violating general convention resolution B012, which requires all bishops to permit same-sex marriage in their dioceses. As one of the first same-sex couples married in the denomination, I can say that I am appalled at the decision.
Not because of the outcome. In fact, I support same-sex marriage, and believe it should be mandatory for all dioceses. Moreover, the decision is correct in that +Love indeed has violated his ordination vows.
The issue is the underlying hypocrisy, both in the decision and amongst the members of the hearing panel, and within the larger church. (If you can call less than 2 million members large.)
First are the comments of +Knisely, who chairs the Title IV hearing panel.
Knisely in 2018, proposing B012: “Resolution B012 continues to authorize the two Trial Use Marriage Rites first authorized in 2015 without time limit and without seeking a revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.”
Knisely in 2020, in the decision: “Resolution B012 was properly constituted and passed as an authorized revision to the BCP.”
Second is the hypocrisy of Virginia bishop Jennifer Brooke-Davidson, one of the bishops on the panel. She and Susan Goff repeatedly have ignored the express disciplinary provisions of Canon IV.4.1(h)(6), which proscribes:
“conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;”
Specifically, she has refused to address the Rev. Bob Malm’s perjury, on the disingenuous grounds that Malm has not been covincted of the crime of perjury.
Nor is she unaware of the problem, for I emailed her directly challenging her on her conduct. True to form, the silence was deafening.
But even Episcopal Cafe, the independent blog for the progressive wing of the denomination, rejected my comment in which I noted Brooke-Davidson’s hypocrisy. So much for independence or integrity,
Indeed, I even contacted +Curry directly over the Malm situation. Curry graduated from Yale Divinity School a year ahead of Malm, and didn’t even extend the courtesy of a response. But they did later connect when Curry spoke at the Virginia Theological Seminary Chapel, and appear to remain on good terms.
So, I think its fair to say that the Episcopal Church has become the modern-day version of the Scribes and Pharisees that Jesus condemned. No doubt the Scribes and Pharisees, like the Episcopal Church, sometimes did good things. But at the end of the day, their hypocrisy and lack of genuine faith warranted condemnation.
Thus, while I am glad that the Episcopal Church requires same-sex marriage in all dioceses, I am profoundly troubled at the context in which the decision has been implemented. And the ability to get married in the church is not a blessing, but a curse, when the underlying ethics of the denomination are utterly broken.
In that way I find the late Maya Angelou’s words compelling: “When someone shows you are they are believe them, the first time.” The Episcopal Church is showing us who, and what, it is. Believe it. It’s not the first time.
Visit the Episcopal Cafe article here.
Find the 42-page decision in PDF here.