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Episcopalians Announce Plan to Break Away

Conservative
Episcopalians Announce Plan to Break Away

A dissenting group from the Episcopal Church announced Wednesday that it will establish a rival denomination, challenging the mainstream church's decision to ordain openly gay bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.

A dissenting group from the Episcopal Church announced Wednesday that it will establish a rival denomination, challenging the mainstream church's decision to ordain openly gay bishop Gene Robinson in 2003.

The group said it will file with the leaders of the global Anglican Communion to form its own sect (Episcopalians are the American branch of Anglicans, which is rooted by the Church of England led by the Archbishop of Canterbury). If the sect is approved, other groups breaking away may also defect from the church.

Since Robinson was ordained as bishop of the diocese of New Hampshire, several U.S. churches have aligned themselves with harshly conservative leaders in Africa and Latin America. The division would mark the first time a branch of the Anglican church was divided by ideology and not geography. There are 38 provinces of the denomination around the world, making it the third-largest Christian body internationally.

The new branch, the Anglican Church in North America, would consist of 100,000 members, compared to 2.3 million Episcopalians, according to The New York Times. The new province would unite nine groups that have left the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada over ideological differences, including four of the 110 Episcopal dioceses, and dozens of individual parishes in the U.S. and Canada.

The new church may have to find new buildings for its congregations. The breakaway churches face lawsuits from the Episcopal Church if they attempt to take their properties with them. (Michelle Garcia, Advocate.com)

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