The head of the Episcopal Church says the denomination will resolve internal divisions over the consecration of its first openly gay bishop without direct intervention from overseas Anglican leaders. Some U.S. conservatives who are opposed to ordaining gays are building a separate network of Episcopal churches and are appealing to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to provide direct oversight for them. But presiding bishop Frank Griswold sent a letter on Friday to American bishops saying that, together, they will devise a plan providing alternative church leadership for dissenting congregations - not Williams or others. A draft will be considered at the U.S. bishops' next meeting in March. "I have been in consultation with the archbishop (Williams), and in a conversation earlier this week he made it clear that the responsibility for working out a form of extended episcopal ministry lies within our province," Griswold said. Williams is the spiritual leader of the 77-million-member Anglican Communion, which is represented in the United States by the Episcopal Church.
Griswold is working to avert a schism over V. Gene Robinson, who lives openly with his male partner and was elected bishop of New Hampshire this year. The American Anglican Council, based in Washington, announced Monday that in response to a meeting with overseas backers in London, 13 U.S. bishops have agreed to establish the conservative Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and
Congregations, with Pittsburgh's bishop, Robert Duncan, as moderator. While the network sets up an organization and writes founding documents, it is pleading with conservatives to remain in the Episcopal Church and to form new informal congregations if it's "simply impossible" to stay in their current