Former Episcopal bishop punished for not allowing gay marriages in diocese leaves denomination

A bishop of The Episcopal Church who was punished for refusing to allow the blessing of same-sex marriages in his diocese has decided to leave the mainline Protestant denomination.

William H. Love, former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, was disciplined last year for refusing to enforce a church resolution mandating the blessing of gay marriages in every diocese, including those previously opposed to the practice.

In a statement released Wednesday, Love explained that he was leaving the Episcopal Church effective April 2 and planning to join the Anglican Church in North America, a more theologically conservative denomination.

“As a cradle Episcopalian (with nearly 30 years of ordained ministry as a deacon, priest and bishop), that was not an easy decision, but given all that has transpired these past couple of years and the constraints placed upon me as a theologically conservative and orthodox bishop within TEC, I believe it is the right decision,” wrote Love.

“It is my hope and plan to be received into the Anglican Church in North America in the very near future, at which time all the details of what I will be doing and where I will be serving will be shared in a separate announcement.”

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, leader of the denomination, released a statement in response to the announcement, explaining that he had granted Love’s request.

Without specifically mentioning the issue of same-sex marriage, Curry went on to argue that his belief was that “as a church we are called, as Jesus once said, to be ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ where, as my slave ancestors used to sing, ‘there is plenty good room for all of God’s children.’”

“That conviction is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture. Rather, it is born of my belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are the ultimate sign of the very love of God reaching out to embrace and welcome us all,” stated Curry.