Rev. Thomas Brown, who is married to a fellow priest, was ordained as a bishop of the diocese of Maine in the Episcopal Church June 22. Immediately following his ordination, Brown referred to God as a “she” twice in the Nicene Creed.
“She is worshipped and glorified. She has spoken through the Prophets,” the just-ordained Bishop Brown said, referring to the Holy Spirit.
The Nicene Creed was written 1,638 years ago and only uses masculine pronouns to refer to God.
The microphones in the Cathedral of St. Luke projected the voice of the celebrant, Bishop Curry, for the duration of the creed, barring the line where Bishop Brown used female pronouns for God. It is unclear if the microphones were intentionally switched to project Bishop Brown’s female-gendering of God.
Deacon Todd Thomas of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington told the Daily Caller that he has never heard an Episcopal priest use female pronouns in the creed. Individual bishops and priests can, however, change words and phrases in the Nicene Creed, Deacon Thomas explained. He cautioned any changes to the creed should be done “in conversation” with the lay people.
Deacon Thomas told the Daily Caller he has heard Episcopal priests use female pronouns for God outside of the context of official creeds.
The Episcopal church has a tradition of interpreting the Book of Proverbs’ mentions of “Lady Wisdom” as referring to the Holy Spirit, Deacon Thomas said.
“Inclusive language” of God is encouraged by the Episcopal Church. This “means the use of male and female imagery and metaphors in a balanced way to express the truths we know of God,” the Episcopal Dictionary of the Church says.
Bishop Brown describes himself as a “servant leader who strives for justice among all people and who continues to address white privilege, dismantle racism, and work for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the Body of Christ.”
The bishop met his husband, Father Tom Mousin, when Father Mousin was serving as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. Brown’s husband has since converted to the Episcopal Church, and been ordained in that church.
It is possible that Father Mousin will take up a position at a parish in his husband’s diocese, he said on Facebook, explaining he would have oversight from an outside bishop.
In 2018, the Episcopal Church began requiring all dioceses to perform same-sex marriage rites, even if a particular bishop objects, reports Juicy Ecumenism.