The Episcopal diocese of Albany, N.Y., has agreed to join a conservative theological network that opposes the ordination of gay priests. The vote to join the Anglican Communion Network was ratified Saturday by a majority of Episcopal clergy and laypeople from 19 New York counties during the diocese's annual convention 70 miles north of Albany. Anglican Communion Network, a national orthodox organization, was started in response to last year's appointment of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism. Leaders of the diocese, including Bishop Daniel Herzog, were quick to point out that the vote does not represent a break from the national Episcopal Church. "The bishop said this is designed to keep us in," said diocese spokeswoman Canon Kay Hotaling. "We're joining a network, a network that will remain Christ-centered in the Anglican Church."
But opponents are not so sure. "We see something a little more unsavory going on," said the Reverend Keith Owen, rector of St. Paul's Church in Albany. "Some in this network have made it clear that their agenda is to overthrow the Episcopal Church." Herzog and the leaders of 11 other dioceses established the Anglican Communion Network earlier this year after a majority of U.S. bishops voted last
summer to ordain Robinson.