Thirteen bishops have agreed to form a network of dioceses and congregations that disapprove of the Episcopal Church's consecration of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire. Pittsburgh bishop Robert W. Duncan will be the moderator of the new Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, which he said is not breaking with the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the global Anglican Communion. Dioceses joining the network are Duncan's see in Pittsburgh and those based in Albany, N.Y.; Fresno, Calif.; Charleston, S.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.; Parrish, Fla.; Dallas; Fort Worth; Peoria, Ill.; Springfield, Ill.; Salina, Kan.; and Albuquerque, N.M. The purpose of the network is "to tell the truth to America that the Episcopal Church is telling a lie with the things they approved this summer," Duncan said on Wednesday.
Bishops, clergy, and lay delegates from the dioceses will hold a constituting convention in Plano, Tex., January 19-20 to approve an organizational "charter" and a theological platform. The 15-point draft platform, posted on the network's new Web site Wednesday, says pro-gay actions by the Episcopal Church and the Vancouver diocese of the Anglican Church of Canada have "torn the fabric" of the worldwide Anglican Communion and violated trust with other branches of Christianity. The proposed platform says adherents oppose all actions of Episcopal conventions, bishops, and priests that contradict "the church's commonly accepted scriptural teaching on marriage."
Conservative Episcopal leaders have debated various ways to protest the national church's leadership following the consecration of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as the church's first openly gay bishop. Another point of contention is the church's vote to recognize, though not endorse, the fact that some bishops are allowing same-sex blessing ceremonies. "The Episcopal Church, in approving same-sex blessings and the consecration of the new bishop of New Hampshire, is saying God approves of this," Duncan said. "God doesn't approve of this, and that's a huge lie." The network will try to convince the church to reverse its decision, he said.