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November 19, 2008
Column #1,421
Episcopalians & American Anglicans Split
by Mike McManus

Last weekend three events provided snapshots of the now permanent split between Episcopalians and American Anglicans who separated themselves from The Episcopal Church, once the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

First, by a 4 to 1 vote, delegates of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth became the fourth diocese to abandon the The Episcopal Church (TEC), and to vote, as Bishop Jack Iker put it,  "as a matter of conscience and conviction, to align ourselves with an Orthodox Province... The Anglican Province of the Southern Cone," based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Recently, the Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Quincy (IL), also voted overwhelmingly for a similar split and realignment. A year earlier, the Diocese of San Joaquin based in Fresno, CA, was the first to leave TEC for the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

Together, these four dioceses have 200 churches and 47,000 members.  Not all of those churches will leave the Episcopal Church, but the overwhelming majority will do so. In Fort Worth, five of 56 will remain with the mother church, while 51 are out the door.

Never in the history of America,  have dioceses of a national denomination separated themselves and become part of foreign church bodies as have these four Episcopal dioceses.

However, that's only part of Episcopal Church's woes. Another 300 parishes have left for nine splinter Anglican groups, such as the Anglican Mission in America with 130 parishes and  Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) with 63. Several of these groups have also asked foreign Anglican Provinces to provide a spiritual umbrella: Nigeria and Rwanda.

For parishes to separate from TEC is hazardous because many of the dioceses they were a part of filed law suits to seize the church's property. Nine CANA parishes have spent millions in Northern Virginia. That case exemplifies remarkable TEC arrogance since The Falls Church, for example, predates the diocese. George Washington was once a vestryman.

The central issue dividing Episcopalians from fleeing conservatives is TEC's acceptance of the ordination of gay priests and a gay bishop in New Hampshire, plus performance of same-sex "marriages" by many parishes.  When Proposition 8 to put into the state constitution a provision limiting marriage to the union of a man and woman was being debated in California - every Episcopal bishop opposed it.

After it was approved by 5.4 million to 4.9 million, Episcopal Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles asserted this weekend that Prop 8 was "a lamentable expression of fear-based discrimination that attempts to deny the constitutional rights of some Californians on the basis of sexual discrimination."

He asked those who supported Prop 8 "to make an honest and dedicated effort to learn more about the lives and experiences of lesbian and gay humanity whose constitutional rights are unfairly targeted by this measure. Look carefully at scriptural interpretations, and remember that the Bible was once used to justify slavery among other forms of oppression."

Bishop Marc Andrus charged that Californians demonstrated a "fear of human sexuality." That's "plain nonsense" says David Virtue, the world's most widely read Anglican journalist. "California is one of the most sexually open and sexually experimental states in the country," home of "the porno industry." 

Equally fatuous is Bruno's assertion that the "constitutional rights" of gays were harmed.  The Constitution does not guarantee gays the right to marry. Rather, the public voted to affirm an understanding of marriage going back to Genesis: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."

It is even a vote to protect those with homosexual orientation. If the law sanctions gay marriage, that lifestyle will attract more men.  A study in the International Journal of Epidemiology reported that the "life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men."

The third major event was the announcement by deposed Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, that a North American Anglican Province will be created Dec. 2-3 in Wheaton by the Common Cause Partnership of the nine Anglican groups which have split from TEC, with 100,000 former Episcopalians. 

This initiative will be fought by The Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada,  Church of England and other largely liberal, white jurisdictions. However, the step has support from Global South bishops. Nigeria alone has 20 million church-going Anglicans, while there only 800,000 in England. 

In time, the white liberals will have to yield to the conservative blacks and Hispanics of the Global South, and their American missionaries in North America.

 
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