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Candidates for next Bishop of Albany all pro-same-sex marriage

11 August 2023

St Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Members of St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Albany, New York, march in a Pride parade

Members of St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Albany, New York, march in a Pride parade

THE four priests who have been nominated to become the next Bishop of Albany, in the United States, have all indicated that they would allow same-sex couples to marry in church. This would be a first for the northern New York diocese.

The candidates are the Revd Geoffrey Ward; the Revd Jeremiah Williamson; the Revd Neal Longe; and the Revd Scott Garno.

Albany diocese is the last in the Episcopal Church to prohibit same-sex marriage. It has been without a diocesan bishop since February 2021, when the last, the Rt Revd William Love, quit while facing disciplinary action after he banned clergy in his diocese from using the marriage rites for same-sex couples which were approved in the 2018 General Convention (News, 30 October 2020). Shortly after his resignation, he joined the Anglican Church in North America (News, 9 April 2021).

The four candidates were asked for their views on marriage equality in essay questions posed by the diocese, and their answers were later published online, the Episcopal News Service reports. Each called for healing, and indicated that they would abide by the laws set out by the General Convention — though each varied in exactly how they would do this.

Mr Longe, who serves in Albany, wrote: “This authorization would be made without need for waiver, special permission or the need for outside supplemental episcopal oversight.”

Mr Garno, who serves in the diocese, wrote: “It is only through listening to each other, trusting each other, loving each other as siblings in Christ . . . that we will find a lasting peace.”

Mr Williamson, from the diocese of Colorado, wrote: “Ultimately, I would like to see the [Albany] diocese create more room, make more space for a diversity of opinions.”

Mr Ward, from the diocese of Milwaukee, wrote that he would avoid “any canonical crises” or schism on the issue of marriage. He promised to start a process for reconciling diocesan canons with the Episcopal Church’s more inclusive definition of marriage. “Honouring theological diversity would be a priority,” he said.

The ecclesiastical authority in the diocese is currently the diocesan standing committee, until a new bishop is elected. It announced in November 2021 that the ceremonies could be held in compliance with a General Convention resolution (B012) of July 2018 to enable all couples to request gender-neutral marriage rites.

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