A bishop of The Episcopal Church whose diocese is based in the capital of New York has announced that his churches will not perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
Earlier this year, the Episcopal Church General Convention passed a resolution allowing for congregations to perform gay weddings even in dioceses where leadership objects. The new policy is scheduled to take effect on the first Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2.
This stood in contrast to a resolution passed by the General Convention in 2015 that allowed bishops opposed to same-sex marriage to maintain a ban on such unions within their diocese.
Bishop William Love of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany released a lengthy pastoral letter on Saturday officially stating that the gay marriage rites approved earlier this year "shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed)."
"Jesus is calling the Church to follow His example. He is calling the Church to have the courage to speak His Truth in love about homosexual behavior – even though it isn't politically correct," stated Bishop Love.
"Sexual relations between two men or two women was never part of God's plan and is a distortion of His design in creation and as such is to be avoided. To engage in sexual intimacy outside of marriage between a man and women, is against God's will and therefore sinful and needs to be repented of, NOT encouraged or told it is ok."
Love also stated that he believes that both his denomination and overall Western society "have been hijacked by the 'Gay Rights Agenda,'" and that pro-LGBT Episcopalians have been "received into believing a lie that has been planted in the Church by the 'great deceiver' – Satan."
"There is no doubt The Episcopal Church and now the Diocese of Albany are in the midst of a huge storm that can rip us apart if we are not careful. That is exactly what Satan wants," added Love.
"We don't have to play his game. If we focus on what divides us, we will be destroyed. If we focus on what unites us – our Lord Jesus Christ -- He will get us through to the other side. I pray the Lord will help us to see one another as He sees us; to love one another as He loves us; to forgive one another as He forgives us."
At their triennial convention in Austin, Texas in July, the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops and House of Deputies passed Resolution B012, which allows same-sex couples to be married by clergy in eight dioceses that had previously not allowed marriage rites for same-sex couples.
While the new resolution still gives clergy the right to refuse to perform gay weddings, bishops who oppose same-sex marriage rites must call on another bishop who does not oppose such unions to provide pastoral support for the couple and a clergy for the ceremony.
In addition to the Diocese of Albany, the other impacted dioceses include Dallas; North Dakota; Springfield, Illinois; Tennessee; the U.S. Virgin Islands; and two of the denomination's Florida-based dioceses, the Diocese of Florida and the Diocese of Central Florida.
Long Island Bishop Larry Provenzano, who proposed the B012, told Episcopal News Service in an interview earlier this year that he considered the resolution "a really important moment for the church."
"We do this without there having to be one side wins and one side loses. Very much like the theme of the whole convention, there's a great movement for the church to really be the church in this time," stated Bishop Provenzano.