Massachusetts: Pro-gay Episcopal bishop to step down

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The outspoken pro-gay bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts says he plans to retire in 2014.

According to the Associated Press, Bishop Marvil Thomas Shaw announced on the diocese website that he is calling for an election to select a successor in April 2014.

The 67-year-old has led the diocese since September 1994.

The diocese has 68,000 members in 185 congregations in eastern Massachusetts.

Bishop Shaw is widely regarded for holding the diocese together during the disputes over equal marriage and gay clergy in his nearly two decades leading the church.

He did not give a specific reason for stepping down, but said he made the decision after “prayer and conversation with my community, friends and family.”

The US Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, retired from his post at the start of the year.