Count me out on same-sex unions
A GRADUATE of Barbados’ Codrington College who rose to become rector of the largest black parish in the United States Episcopal Church is leaving his wealthy religious edifice in Brooklyn early because of same-sex marriages.
And he isn’t going quietly.
“I could no longer live with my conscience and stay in the Episcopal Church,” 66-year-old rector of St Mark’s Episcopal Church, the Rev. Dr Peter Bramble, told the DAILY?NATION.
“I am retiring from active parish ministry, and I am not going job hunting somewhere else.
I am just leaving and I have communicated my decision to the vestry of St Mark’s and to the Bishop of Long Island, the Right Reverend Lawrence Provenzano,” said Bramble, a priest for almost 40 years.
“My retirement was precipitated at this time by the fact that the diocese is very, very actively pushing and promoting same-sex marriages in the church.
“I just don’t believe that is right or good, and it is very difficult for me to be part of it.”
Trained in Barbados
Rector of St Mark’s for almost 15 years, Bramble, who was trained for the priesthood in Barbados in the 1960s and early 1970s and holds graduate degrees in theology from Yale University and the University of Connecticut, is a long-standing vocal critic of the church’s acceptance of homosexuality.
He decided to retire when the Long Island diocese announced it was permitting same-sex couples to marry in the church after New York State recently enacted a same-sex marriage law.
“I never thought the Scripture permits same-sex marriages. It doesn’t. It doesn’t authenticate it. It doesn’t lift it up and it certainly doesn’t bless it,” argued Bramble.
Interestingly, Bramble was quick to explain that his daughter, a lesbian, was married to another woman but he declined to participate in or attend her wedding ceremony.
“Yes, I love my daughter very much,” he said.
St Mark’s has a congregation of 3 600 members, at least 80 per cent of whom are Bajans, Jamaicans, Guyanese, Trinidadians and other West Indians. It has an annual operating budget of US$1.6 million and owns millions of dollars in assets, including a spacious church school, a large housing complex, a comfortable two-storey rectory and several individual homes in Brooklyn, bequeathed to the parish.
He had some strong parting words for the Episcopal Church.
The West Indian theologian, who was born in Montserrat and welcomed West Indies Archbishop and Bishop of Barbados John Holder to his parish and to New York, described the United States church as a “cesspool”.
“I don’t even know what the priests I sit next to in the diocese believe any more,” he lamented.
At least 95 per cent of the West Indians who worship regularly at St Mark’s have rejected the Episcopal Church’s favourable stance on homosexuality and same-sex unions, said Father Bramble.